Heart disease risk factors huger for women, African Americans

Aug 12, 2014 11:35 AM EDT | By Staff Reporter

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 Chronic diseases that can increase a person's risk of heart attack or stroke have a greater impact on women and blacks, according to a new population-based study.

The combination of cardiovascular risk factors has a greater impact on blacks versus whites, and in women versus men, according to a new study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

"These findings could support the idea that when a woman or a black patient has these risk factors, they tend to be not as recognized or well-controlled, because they aren't as aggressively treated," said Dr. Susan Cheng, a specialist in cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The researchers studied information on 13,541 participants, then calculated the contribution of each PAR risk factor to the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease over the next decade.

"We've been targeting traditional risk factors in public health campaigns for many years. We wanted to take a look at how well we've been doing over time at keeping these risk factors from causing heart and vascular disease - both by preventing the risks from occurring and by minimizing their effects when they do occur," said Cheng in a statement.

Dr. Cheng stresses the smoking point. "In fact, for current smokers the risk of heart and vascular disease has actually gone up, possibly because remaining smokers tend to smoke more heavily or carry additional risk factors."

The findings of the study suggest a need for more targeted approaches to modifying risk factors in order to lower the overall burden of cardiovascular risks.

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