Awareness of Individual Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Self-Perception of Cardiovascular Risk in Women☆,☆☆

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Abstract

Background:

Cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs) self-perception by women may be inaccurate.

Materials and Methods:

A questionnaire was completed anonymously Online by women who self-reported their personal CVRF levels including age, weight, contraceptive use, menopausal status, smoking, diet and physical activities. Self-perceived risk was matched to actual cardiovascular risk according to the Framingham score.

Results:

Among 5,240 young and middle-aged women with a high educational level, knowledge of personal CVRFs increased with age, from 51-90% for blood pressure (BP), 22-45% for blood glucose and 15-47% for blood cholesterol levels, between 30 and 65 years, respectively. This knowledge was lower for smoking compared with nonsmoking women: 62.5% vs. 74.5% for BP (P < 0.001), 22.7% vs. 33.8% for blood glucose (P < 0.001), 21.9% vs. 32.0% for cholesterol levels (P < 0.001). Knowledge of BP level was reduced among women using an estrogen-progestogen contraception (56.8% vs. 62.1%, P = 0.0031) and even more reduced among smokers (52.2%, P < 0.001). Conversely, women with leisure-time physical or sportive activity (60.5%), were less overweight or obese (22.4% vs. 34.2%, P < 0.001). They reported better knowledge of BP (72.4% vs. 68.3%, P < 0.001), blood cholesterol (31.1% vs. 26.4%, P < 0.001) and glucose levels (32.7% vs. 27.8%, P < 0.001). Self-perceived cardiovascular risk was rated low by 1,279 (20.4%), moderate by 3,710 (63.3%) and high by 893 (16.3%) women. Among 3,386 women tested using the Framingham score, 40.8% were at low, 25.2% at moderate and 33.8% at high risk.

Conclusions:

Knowledge of CVRFs and self-perception of individual risk are inaccurate in women. Educational interventions should be emphasized.

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