Inadequate cardiovascular disease (CVD) knowledge has been cited to account for the imperfect decline in CVD among women over the last 2 decades.
Due to concerns that at-risk women might not know the leading cause of death or symptoms of a heart attack, our goal was to assess the relationship between CVD knowledge race/ethnicity, education, and body mass index (BMI).
Using a structured questionnaire, CVD knowledge, socio-demographics, risk factors, and BMI were evaluated in 681 women.
Participants included Hispanic, 42.1% (n = 287); non-Hispanic white (NHW), 40.2% (n = 274); non-Hispanic black (NHB), 7.3% (n = 50); and Asian/Pacific Islander (A/PI), 8.7% (n = 59). Average BMI was 26.3 ± 6.1 kg/m2. Hypertension was more frequent among overweight (45%) and obese (62%) than normal weight (24%) (P < 0.0001), elevated total cholesterol was more frequent among overweight (41%) and obese (44%) than normal weight (30%) (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively), and diabetes was more frequent among obese (25%) than normal weight (5%) (P < 0.0001). Knowledge of the leading cause of death and symptoms of a heart attack varied by race/ethnicity and education (P < 0.001) but not BMI. Concerning the leading cause of death among women in the United States, 87.6% (240/274) NHW answered correctly compared to 64% (32/50) NHB (P < 0.05), 28.3% (80/283) Hispanic (P < 0.0001), and 55.9% (33/59) A/PI (P < 0.001). Among participants with ≤12 years of education, 21.2% knew the leading cause of death and 49.3% knew heart attack symptoms vs 75.7% and 75.5%, respectively, for >12 years (both P < 0.0001).
Effective prevention strategies for at-risk populations need to escalate CVD knowledge and awareness among the undereducated and minority women. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
This work was funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (1HHCWH050003-01-00) and the Arlene and Joseph Taub Foundation, Paterson, New Jersey, and supported by grant UL1 RR024156, National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the NCRR or NIH. The funding sources had no role in the manuscript design, data collection, data analysis, or text. The authors have no other funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.