Screen women differently for heart disease, AHA says

The American Heart Association is calling on physicians to change the way they screen women for heart disease.

The statement, published April 10 in Circulation, highlights how nonbiological factors as well as social determinants of health and elements of menstrual cycle history can affect heart disease risk.

"Equitable access to evidence-based cardiovascular preventive healthcare should be available for all women regardless of race and ethnicity; however, these guidelines are not equally incorporated into clinical practice," the statement said.

"Language barriers, discrimination, acculturation and healthcare access disproportionately affect women of underrepresented races and ethnicities. These factors result in a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease and significant challenges in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular conditions."

The statement also encourages physicians to consider menstrual cycle elements and medical history in cardiovascular disease risk assessments, including:

  • Pregnancy-related conditions, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, gestational high blood pressure or miscarriage.

  • Menstrual cycle history.

  • Types of birth control and/or hormone replacement therapy used.

  • History of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome.

  • Autoimmune disorders.

  • Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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