Greater emphasis needed on CVD risk in women

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A new study suggests social stigma around body weight may prevent CVD from being discussed at consultations.

Physicians are urged to place a greater emphasis on the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) among female patients, by helping to destigmatise the condition.

It follows the publication of findings from a new study which shows that despite a smaller decrease in the rate of decline in overall mortality from CVD among women compared with men, CVD is not always a priority at consultations.

The study was undertaken among 1,011 patients, 200 primary care doctors and 100 cardiologists. It found social stigma, particularly regarding body weight, contributed to hesitation by many women to visit healthcare providers or discuss cardiovascular health. Most doctors did not feel well-prepared to assess women’s risk of CVD and only 16 per cent of primary care doctors and 22 per cent of cardiologists fully implemented guidelines for risk assessment.

In a linked editorial, Dr Jennifer G. Robinson said helping women overcome barriers to increasing physical activity and healthier eating habits may help to avoid the stigma of focusing on weight loss at appointments. “Women are often the gate-keepers for family meals, activities and health care, and a focus on healthy lifestyle habits may also encourage early prevention in the family as a whole,” she said.

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