The OB/GYN patient screening pilot program launched by SCAI-Women in Innovations (“WIN”) and Abbott Vascular’s Women’s Heart Health Initiative made huge strides in 2012, as impressive early results were presented at medical meetings across the United States and journalists picked up the story.
Among key findings from two years of collecting cardiovascular disease risk factor data on over 3,000 female patients visiting their OB/GYNs are the following:
- Over 70 percent of the women screened at 16 study sites had cardiovascular disease risk factors.
- Of the women screened, approximately 40 percent were experiencing cardiovascular symptoms, and 25 percent were referred to cardiologists for follow-up.
- Most importantly, almost 20 percent of the women screened considered their OB/GYN to be their primary care physician, underscoring their key role in primary prevention and education for female patients.
These and other results from the pilot study were presented at the 2012 annual conferences of ACC, SCAI, TCT and AHA, and received significant media attention. Over 40 print and internet news outlets reported on the story and local TV stations from across the country followed with similar feature stories.
Most recently, Pregnancy Magazine featured a Q&A with SCAI WIN Chair Roxana Mehran, M.D., FSCAI, about the survey and the possible link between preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and other pregnancy complications with cardiovascular disease. “This study generated a lot of buzz, and rightfully so,” said Dr. Mehran, whose team at Mount Sinai conducted the final study analysis. “We always felt there was potential to reach women at their OB/GYN offices, and the results support this. As we continue to try and find solutions for women with heart disease, this could be an opportunity to raise awareness early and be more proactive with risk factor modification and treatment.”
Building on the success of the pilot, SCAI-WIN is moving to the next level. This spring a steering committee of both cardiologists and OB/GYNs will convene to set goals for the future, likely including application for grants to support a second, larger phase of the study. The second phase would aim to capture more patient data, and substudies would look at specific racial and ethnic data as well as gynecological conditions that are linked to increased risk of heart disease. There is also potential for developing an educational campaign for physicians and patients, encouraging female patients to act as advocates for their health.
As exciting as the study is, it does not come without challenges, noted Dr. Mehran. “Forging a collaborative relationship between specialists is not always easy,” she said, “and asking physicians to take on responsibilities outside of their training and reimbursement is often met with resistance.”
“Not only does this program ask cardiologists and OB/GYNs to work together, but it also asks OB/GYNs to do even more than they already do,” explained Monique Chireau, M.D., a Duke University OB/GYN and SCAIWIN Steering Committee member. “Because OB/GYNs are a primary point of care for many, if not most, women, they are often requested to provide additional primary care services. It’s a tall order. We will need to be very careful in how we approach our next phase of study in order to assure our success. I think starting the planning process with collaboration between specialties is the right way to begin.”
For more information, visit www.scai-win.org or contact SCAI-WIN Director Rebecca Ortega at firstname.lastname@example.org.