Annual gynaecologist visit 'could reduce women's heart disease risk'
Annual ‘well woman’ exams by obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYNs) are also an opportunity to evaluate a woman's heart health, according to a new advisory.
The research, carried out by the American Heart Association and FIGO National Member Society the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, emphasises the benefits of collaborative care between OB/GYN specialists and cardiologists. Since heart disease and stroke are still the leading causes of death in women, the advisory points out the role OB/GYNs can play in helping women reduce their risk, as roughly 90 per cent of women have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Dr John Warner, president of the American Heart Association, executive vice president for health system affairs at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, US, said:
“OB/GYNs are primary care providers for many women, and the annual 'well woman' visit provides a powerful opportunity to counsel patients about achieving and maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle, which is a cornerstone of maintaining heart health.”
Risk factors for heart disease - such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity - affect both sexes. However, some may affect women differently and are considered to be more significant. According to the advisory, OB/GYNs are uniquely qualified to identify and tackle female-specific conditions and treatments that may raise a woman's risk of heart disease or stroke. Complications of pregnancy - including pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, pre-term delivery, and low-for-estimated-gestational-age birth weight - represent a subsequent increase in the mother's cardiovascular risk. The advisory pointed out that adverse pregnancy outcomes can be used to identify women who are at an increased risk for heart disease, even in those for whom the conditions resolve after birth.