"Sustained efforts are critical, because African-American women have the highest risk of heart disease and Hispanic women have the highest risk of diabetes, a powerful risk factor that is increasing in epidemic proportions," Mosca said.
The poll authors also observed an age gap, with both overall awareness and the likelihood of discussing heart disease with a doctor particularly low among the 25- to 34-year-old set, the youngest group polled.
On the prevention front, women seemed more motivated to make lifestyle changes to feel better and improve their health, rather than to live longer. The team also noted that women continue to have "low" awareness levels when it comes to knowing the atypical symptoms of heart trouble that are unique to women, such as nausea.
However, Mosca did note that one particularly encouraging and surprising finding was that patients do seem to trust their physicians. "This was perceived to be a historical barrier," she noted, "[but] the new data suggest there is an important opportunity for health care providers to help raise awareness among high-risk women, which is the first step in patients taking action to lower risk."
Dr. Jennifer Mieres, a professor of cardiology at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New Hyde Park, N.Y., said that media-savvy public health campaigns (such as last week's annual celebrity-driven "Red Dress Event" in New York City) are the key to raising awareness.
"When the AHA's 'Go Red' campaign got started, it was sort of a recognition that most women, when they were asked where they get their information about heart disease from, said they got it from the media. Seventy percent said their information came from magazines, TV, radio shows. Only 24 percent said they got information from their medical providers," Mieres said.
"So, it was a wake-up call," she added. "Because while one in 20 or 30 women die from breast cancer, one in three women die from heart disease. But the breast
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