Gynecological exam, heart screening should go hand-in-hand

  • Visiting the gynaecologist is the only form of primary health care for many women
  • A study found that the majority of women visiting a gynaecology clinic had a risk for cardiovascular problems
  • The researchers suggested that gynaecological centres should also assess women's heart disease risk

What if you were given a heart screening when you see your gynaecologist?

New research suggests that such a strategy might be smart medicine.

Scientists found that 86% of women seen at an outpatient gynaecology clinic had a cardiovascular risk factor and 40% had at least one cardiovascular symptom, but there was low awareness of cardiovascular risk factors and symptoms among the women.

Improving heart screening

The level of awareness of risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity was somewhat higher among those with a history of adverse pregnancy outcomes, but those without such a history were more likely to have risk factors and cardiovascular symptoms such as angina and shortness of breath.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Women's Health.

For many women, a visit to the gynaecologist is their only form of primary health care, so improving heart screening in ob-gyn clinics may improve detection of heart problems in women, researcher Dr Roxana Mehran, from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, said in a journal news release.

The international team of researchers also concluded that a simple questionnaire works well in gynaecology clinics for assessing women's heart disease risk.

"This compelling paper emphasises how far we are from achieving optimal cognisance of [heart disease] risk factors in addition to identifying symptoms of angina among all women, particularly perimenopausal women and those with a history of adverse pregnancy outcomes," Dr Gina Lundberg, from Emory Women's Heart Center in Atlanta, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

Image credit: iStock

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