Ethnic minority women ill-informed about heart disease
MedWire News: Black and Hispanic women are less likely than White women to be aware of heart disease risk and the symptoms of a heart attack, researchers say.
A pooled analysis of a nationally representative sample of women, published in the Journal of Women's Health, found that Black and Hispanic women were 66% less likely than White women to be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, after multivariate adjustment for significant confounders.
In addition, women who left education before reaching high school were less likely than those with higher education levels to be aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, at an odds ratio of 0.37, as were those with an annual income of less than US$ 35,000 (€ 28,118) relative to more affluent women, at an odds ratio of 0.56.
Furthermore, women younger than 55 years were 34% less likely to be aware of the leading cause of death in women and 47% less likely to report being well informed about heart disease compared with women aged 55 years or over.
When asked about warning signs of a heart attack, few women reported atypical heart attack signs including fatigue (7%), nausea (15%), and shortness of breath (34%) compared with chest pain (60%).
Black and Hispanic women were less likely to cite heart attack signs compared with White women, including pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, and arms (44 and 48 vs 62 women), and fatigue (5 for both vs 7).
When asked for the first thing they would do if they thought someone else was having a heart attack, older women were less likely than their younger counterparts to state that they would call 911. Race was not significantly associated with likelihood for calling 911.
"Clearly, education that is targeted to racial/ethnic minority and younger women about heart disease risk is needed, as well as education of all women about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack," commented Susan Kornstein, editor-in-chief of Journal of Women's Health.
For the study, Lori Mosca (Columbia University Medical Center, New York, USA) and team pooled the AHA National Surveys that were conducted in 2006 (n=1005) and 2009 (n=1142) using common variables, and reweighted this to reflect the 2010 United States Census.
They then asked all participants open-ended questions pertaining to awareness of heart disease risk, signs and symptoms of a heart attack, as well as response to someone else experiencing a heart attack.
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By Piriya Mahendra