Cardiovascular Disease Not a Top Concern For Women or Their Physicians

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC  Director, Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center Director, Linda Joy Pollin Women's Heart Health Program Director, Erika Glazer Family Foundation Women's Heart Disease Initiative Director, Preventive Cardiac Center  Professor of Medicine  Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Dr. Merz

C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC 
Director, Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center
Director, Linda Joy Pollin Women’s Heart Health Program
Director, Erika Glazer Family Foundation Women’s Heart Disease Initiative
Director, Preventive Cardiac Center
Professor of Medicine
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number 1 killer of women in the U.S.A., yet few younger women personalize awareness. CVD campaigns focus little attention on physicians and their role assessing risk.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Overall, 45% of women were unaware that CVD is the #1 killer of women, only 11% knew a woman who has died from it.  Overall, 45% of women reported it is common to cancel or postpone a physician appointment until losing weight. Cardiovascular disease was a top concern for only 39% of PCPs, after weight and breast health. A minority of physicians (22% of PCPs and 42% of cardiologists) felt well prepared to assess women’s CVD risk, and infrequently use guidelines.

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Failed Fertility Therapy Linked To Increased Risk of Heart Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jacob A. Udell MD MPH FRCPC Cardiovascular Division Women's College Hospital Toronto General Hospital University of Toronto

Dr. Jacob Udell

Jacob A. Udell MD MPH FRCPC
Cardiovascular Division
Women’s College Hospital
Toronto General Hospital
University of Toronto 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We’ve noticed for a long time that fertility drug treatment can cause short-term complications such as high blood pressure or diabetes in pregnancy. We recently started wondering whether there may be long term consequences for these women years after a baby was or was not born.  To do this, we looked at all women who were treated with fertility therapy in Ontario for the last 20 years, from what we could determine this amounted to more than 28,000 women. We then followed up years later to examine every woman’s cardiovascular health.

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Paracardial Fat Linked To Postmenopausal Coronary Artery Calcification

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H. Assistant professor Department of Epidemiology University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

Dr. El Khoudary,

Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Assistant professor
Department of Epidemiology
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our study revealed a previously unknown, menopause-specific indicator of heart disease risk. For the first time, we’ve pinpointed the type of heart fat, linked it to a risk factor for heart disease and shown that menopausal status and estrogen levels are critical modifying factors of its associated risk in women.

My team evaluated clinical data, including blood samples and heart CT scans, on 478 women from Pittsburgh and Chicago enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women were in varying stages of menopause, averaged 51 years old and were not on hormone replacement therapy.

In a previous study, we showed that a greater volume of paracardial fat, but not epicardial fat, after menopause is associated with a decline in the sex hormone estradiol—the most potent estrogen—in women. The higher volume of epicardial fat was tied to other risk factors, such as obesity.

In the new study, we built on those findings to discover that not only is a greater paracardial fat volume specific to menopause, but—in postmenopausal women and women with lower levels of estradiol—it’s also associated with a greater risk of coronary artery calcification, an early sign of heart disease that is measured with a heart CT scan.

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Increased Risk of Heart Disease in Postmenopausal Women With History of Weight Cycling

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Somwail Rasla, MD Internal Medicine Resident Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island Brown University

Dr. Somwail Rasla

Somwail Rasla, MD
Internal Medicine Resident
Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island
Brown University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Weight cycling has been studied as a possible risk factors for all-cause mortality and was found to be insignificant in some studies and significant in other studies when adjusted to age and timing of when the weight cycling occurred. It was proposed that weight cycling may increase risk of chronic inflammation by which weight cycling was considered to be a risk factor for increased morbidity and all cause mortalities. Other studies have reported that frequent weight cycling was associated with shorter telomere length, which is a risk factor for several comorbidities including CHD. Earlier studies showed that weight cycling has an association with increase in size of adipocytes as well as fluctuation of serum cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, insulin, and glucagon which may contribute to the increased incidence of diabetes. Alternatively, in the nurses’ health study , weight cycling was not predictive of cardiovascular or total mortality.

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Coronary Artery Calcium Found in 1/3 Women Designated “Low-Risk’

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr-Maryam-Kavousi

Dr. Maryam Kavousi

Maryam Kavousi MD, PhD, FESC
Assistant Professor
Department of Epidemiology
Erasmus University Medical Center
Rotterdam The Netherlands 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The most recent American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention guidelines recommend statins for a larger proportion of populations.

Notably, a large group of women are categorized as low CVD risk by the guidelines and would therefore not typically qualify for intensive management of their standard risk factors. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) scanning allows for the detection of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis and is viewed as the vessel’s memory of lifetime exposure to risk factors. We therefore aimed to address the utility of CAC as a potential tool for refining CVD risk assessment in asymptomatic women at low CVD risk based on the new guidelines.

This study involved data on 6,739 low-risk women from 5 population-based cohort studies across the United States and Europe. We found that CAC was present in 36% of low-risk women and was associated with increased risk of CVD. Continue reading

Breastfeeding Is a Women’s Health Issue

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Melissa C. Bartick, M.D. Assistant Professor of Medicine Department of Medicine, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge Harvard Medical School, Boston Massachusetts

Dr. Melissa Bartick

Melissa C. Bartick, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Department of Medicine, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge
Harvard Medical School, Boston
Massachusetts

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: There has never been a study that combined maternal and pediatric health outcomes and costs into a single model. My colleague Arnold Reinhold and I had published a pediatric study in 2010, which was widely publicized but needed to be updated. My colleagues and I published a maternal study in 2013. But the two studies had different methodologies, and so the total costs could not be simply added together.

Here, we wanted to get a picture of the impact of breastfeeding in the US public health as whole, by creating a single model that combined maternal and pediatric outcomes. That had never been done before.

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Women With Migraine At Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Dr. Dr. Tobias Kurth Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology and Director of the Institut of Public Health, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany. Co-director, Centre Virchow-Villermé, for Public Health Paris – Berlin, Campus Berlin. Adjunct Associate Epidemiologist, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Dr. Tobias Kurth

Prof. Dr. Dr. Tobias Kurth
Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology and Director of the Institut of Public Health, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany.
Co-director, Centre Virchow-Villermé, for Public Health Paris – Berlin, Campus Berlin.
Adjunct Associate Epidemiologist, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Kurth: Migraine has been consistently associated with increased risk of stroke. Associations with other (non-stroke) Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) was less clear.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Kurth: Women with migraine are at increased risk of any CVD event, including Myocardial infarction, stroke and cardivoascular death.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Kurth:  We do not yet understand the mechanism of this association and strong efforts are needed to find solution to reduce the increased risk.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Kurth: I am aware of the importance of the finding but we hope to not scare patients with migraine. Nevertheless, women with migraine should be evaluated for their vascular risk.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Kurth Tobias, Winter Anke C, Eliassen A Heather,Dushkes Rimma, Mukamal Kenneth J, Rimm Eric Bet al. Migraine and risk of cardiovascular disease in women: prospective cohort study

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on MedicalResearch.com.

Inflammatory Biomarkers Predictive of Coronary Artery Calcium in Women at Midlife

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Norman C. Wang, M.D., M.S., Assistant professor
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H.,
Assistant professor of Epidemiology
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We studied 252 middle-aged women with no known cardiovascular disease from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation [SWAN] Heart Study to determine if 5 blood biomarkers associated with abnormal inflammation/hemostasis were associated with increasing amounts of calcium detected in coronary arteries on computed tomography scans, or coronary artery calcium progression. Only higher blood levels of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 was associated with coronary artery calcium progression.

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Inflammatory Biomarker CRP Linked To Heart Disease Risk in African American Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Norman C. Wang, M.D., M.S., Assistant professor
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Samar R. El Khoudary, Ph.D., M.P.H.,
Assistant professor of Epidemiology
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We examined medical records, blood samples and heart CT scans for 372 black and white women from Pittsburgh and Chicago enrolled in the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). The women averaged just over 51 years old, were not on hormone replacement therapy and had no known heart disease when enrolled. We then looked at blood levels of five biomarkers linked to inflammation. All of the biomarkers were associated with coronary artery calcification, a predictor of heart disease that is measured with a heart CT scan.

Taking into account the participants’ body mass index (BMI), a measure of overall body fat, we found that obesity was a key factor linking most of the elevated inflammation biomarkers and coronary artery calcification. Regardless of BMI, black women with higher levels of one particular biomarker, C-reactive protein, were more likely to have coronary artery calcification than whites. In fact, black women with coronary artery calcification had an average level of C-reactive protein in their blood that was almost double that of their white counterparts.

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Women May Overestimate Breast Cancer Risk, Underestimate Obesity, Heart Disease Risks

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Julie M. Kapp, MPH, PhD Associate Professor 2014 Baldrige Executive Fellow University of Missouri School of Medicine Department of Health Management and Informatics Columbia, MO 65212

Dr. Kapp

Julie M. Kapp, MPH, PhD
Associate Professor
2014 Baldrige Executive Fellow
University of Missouri School of Medicine
Department of Health Management and Informatics
Columbia, MO 65212

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Kapp: For the past several decades the U.S. has had the highest obesity rate compared to high-income peer countries, and for many years people in the U.S. have had a shorter life expectancy. For female life expectancy at birth, the U.S. ranked second to last. At the same time, the U.S. has the third highest rate of mammography screening among peer countries, and the pink ribbon is one of the most widely recognized symbols in the U.S. While the death rate in females for coronary heart disease is significantly higher than that for breast cancer, at 1 in 7.2 deaths compared to 1 in 30, respectively, women have higher levels of worry for getting breast cancer.

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