By the Numbers: Women’s Perceptions About Heart Health

American Heart Month, celebrated every February, is an important reminder to understand and address risks for heart disease – the number one killer of women in the United States.i American women are overwhelmingly aware of the seriousness of maintaining their cardiovascular health; however recent public opinion research shows that fewer than half know their own personal numbers for key measures of heart health, such as cholesterol. 

These findings and more emerged from our recent survey of more than 1,100 women, conducted by Morning Consult in partnership with the American Heart Association, to learn about their perceptions of the importance of heart health and experiences managing heart-related conditions.

View the full results.

The Awareness Paradox

Although 92 percent of women say heart-related conditions are a serious issue in the U.S., and a plurality (45%) identify heart disease as the leading cause of death among women, many remain unaware of their own risk factors for heart disease.

With the exception of blood pressure – which 65 percent of women report knowing – other key measures of heart health remain under-recognized to those who have them. Six in 10 women, for example, are unaware of their cholesterol levels (57%), blood sugar levels (58%), BMI (61%), and waist circumference (62%).

And despite the fact that over a third report having a heart condition themselves, and more than two in five have a family history of heart conditions, just 18 percent of women overall say heart health is the most pressing health issue in the U.S. today, falling behind both mental health (27%) and cancer (19%).

Connecting Patients to Heart Health Resources and Care

Providers across the health care continuum can play an important role in helping individuals access the information, preventive screenings, and condition management support they need to improve heart health outcomes. In addition to primary care and specialists, women agree that pharmacists (64%) and nurse practitioners (75%) are both valuable, yet underutilized, resources for managing heart health.

For example, only half of the 26 percent of women who report concerns about their heart health medication consult their pharmacists with questions. Though nearly all of those who do (94%) report their pharmacists are helpful – with the vast majority (70%) finding the support “very” helpful.

As part of patients’ larger health care teams, our pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can help make care more convenient and accessible for millions of women across the country – with both treatment and prevention. Our MinuteClinic services include preventive heart-health screening and counseling, among other important services, to help identify potential risk factors and better manage heart health for women and their loved ones.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve pharmacy care, visit our Health Care Delivery & Innovation information center and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. And to stay informed about the most talked-about topics in health care, register for content alerts and our bi-weekly health care newsletter.

01.30.18

i  https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm