Ladies, don’t be surprised if your OB-GYN asks about some of your lifestyle choices, such as if you smoke, get enough physical activity and eat a healthy diet. If you’re thinking these sound like questions your primary care provider (PCP) usually asks, you’re right. Your yearly OB-GYN visit is not only about your reproductive health anymore—it’s also a time to identify and manage your heart disease risk.
Know Your Nontraditional Risk Factors
OB-GYNs are a strategic resource because there are several nontraditional heart disease risk factors that are more predominant in women than men, such as:
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Lupus erythematosus
• Breast cancer
There are also some risk factors that apply only to women. These include:
• Having polycystic ovarian syndrome
• Using reproductive hormones, such as oral contraceptives and hormone therapy
• Experiencing pregnancy complications, such as gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm delivery and having a low-birth-weight baby
Heart Disease Screening
So, what does a well-woman heart disease prevention visit look like? Your OB-GYN should:• Record a thorough family history.
• Screen for traditional risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, abnormal cholesterol levels and smoking.
• Assess nontraditional risk factors (several listed above).
• Provide lifestyle counseling about how to improve your personal risk for heart disease.