The use of sex-specific factors in the assessment of women's cardiovascular risk

Document Type



Cardiology; Office of the Provost


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death among women in the United States. As compared with men, women are less likely to be diagnosed appropriately, receive preventive care, or be treated aggressively for CVD. Sex differences between men and women have allowed for the identification of CVD risk factors and risk markers that are unique to women. The 2018 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Multi-Society cholesterol guideline and 2019 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guideline on the primary prevention of CVD introduced the concept of risk-enhancing factors that are specific to women and are associated with an increased risk of incident atherosclerotic CVD in women. These factors, if present, would favor more intensified lifestyle interventions and consideration of initiation or intensification of statin therapy for primary prevention to mitigate the increased risk. In this primer, we highlight sex-specific CVD risk factors in women, stress the importance of eliciting a thorough obstetrical and gynecological history during cardiovascular risk assessment, and provide a framework for how to initiate appropriate preventive measures when sex-specific risk factors are present.


This work was published before Salim joined Aga Khan University.

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