A “well” visit to her ob-gyn can benefit a woman’s heart, two leading U.S. medical groups say.
“As the leading health care providers for women, ob-gyns provide care that goes far beyond reproductive health and are in a unique position to screen, counsel and educate patients on heart health,” said Dr. Haywood Brown, immediate past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
“Ob-gyns have a powerful opportunity to be the secret weapon in the fight against heart disease,” Brown added in an ACOG news release.
In a joint advisory, ACOG and the American Heart Association said annual well-woman exams by obstetrician-gynecologists should include a heart disease risk assessment. The advisory emphasizes the value of collaborative care between ob-gyn specialists and cardiologists.
Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in American women. And about 90 percent of them have at least one heart disease and stroke risk factor.
“The annual ‘well woman’ visit provides a powerful opportunity to counsel patients about achieving and maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle, which is a cornerstone of maintaining heart health,” said Dr. John Warner, president of the American Heart Association.
Traditional risk factors for heart disease — high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity — affect both sexes, but some may affect women differently or be more significant, according to ACOG.
The statement said ob-gyns are uniquely qualified to identify and treat woman-specific conditions that may increase a woman’s risk of heart disease or stroke.
Certain pregnancy complications, for example, indicate a subsequent increase in the mother’s heart risk. They include pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, gestational high blood pressure, preterm delivery and low birth weight.
The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more on heart disease.