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March 11, 2013

Data Show Need for OB/GYNs to Play Expanded Role in Educating,
Preventing Heart Disease for Women in Reproductive Years

NEW YORK (March 11, 2013) – A new study by researchers at Montefiore Medical Center found young, minority women are more likely to visit an Obstetrician/Gynecologist (OB/GYN) as their primary care provider  though only 20 percent reported that their OB/GYN cares for all of their health needs. Additionally, when it comes to heart disease, only 33 percent remembered discussing it with their OB/GYN, according to the study, which was presented today at the American College of Cardiology’s 62nd Annual Scientific Session in San Francisco.

“These data show the critical role OB/GYNs play in providing preventive care and education to women who often consider them their primary care provider,” said Mary Rosser, M.D., Ph.D., OB/GYN, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health, Montefiore Medical Center, and assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women's Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. “We as OB/GYNs must embrace our role in caring for our patients and ensure we’re doing everything possible to prevent heart disease and other chronic conditions.”

In recent years, there have been extensive efforts to educate consumers that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Yet this study found that only 22 percent of women ages 18 to 40 and fewer than 20 percent of Hispanic and black women were aware of that fact. Additionally, about 31 percent of surveyed women reported having a pregnancy-related disease, like preeclampsia and gestational hypertension or diabetes, which significantly increases the risk of heart disease.

“Education in an OB/GYNs office is more important than ever, especially in cases where a woman has experienced a pregnancy-related disease,” said Rosser. “American Heart Association guidelines recommend monitoring risk factors for heart disease in the years after pregnancy, and OB/GYNs are on the front lines of that mission.”

A total of 498 women ages 18 and older responded to a 33-question survey at five OB/GYN clinics affiliated with the academic medical center located in the Bronx, N.Y. Among women ages 18 to 40, 56 percent reported only visiting their OB/GYN on an annual basis, whereas 68 percent of women over 41 chose to see an internist. Of the women surveyed, about 40 percent reported having serious medical conditions like diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure.

“I am so passionate about these data, and we are continuing to explore this topic to better understand how OB/GYNs can positively impact the lives of our patients,” Rosser said. “I am hopeful our findings will encourage other OB/GYNs to further support the comprehensive care of their patients.”