Background. More women than men die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Korea. Of important concern to Korean women is the dramatically increasing mortality rate from coronary heart disease (CHD). Despite the significant burden of CHD in Korean women and its adverse impact on national public health, women have received little attention in cardiac research in Korea.
Purpose. The purposes of this study were to: (1) describe the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors in Korean women, (2) estimate the 10-year risk for CHD, and (3) evaluate the proportion of women who need to be treated based on the American Heart Association (AHA) evidence-based guidelines for CVD prevention.
Methods. A cross-sectional design using the data set from the 2008 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey IV was used. The sample was 3,301 asymptomatic women aged 20 years or older. Ten-year risk for CHD was estimated with the Framingham Risk Score. Korean women were classified into three risk subgroups. The proportion of women who were in need of treatment for each subgroup was presented.
Results. About 35% of Korean women had two or more major modifiable risk factors for CHD. Among Korean women free of CVD, 97.4% had a 10-year risk for CHD of < 10%, 2.4% had a risk of 10 to 20%, and 0.2% had a risk of > 20%. About 75% of Korean women in the high risk group were in need of lipid lowering treatment, but only 10.9% of them were receiving treatment.
Conclusions. Modifiable cardiovascular risk factors were highly prevalent among asymptomatic Korean women of all ages, and the clustering of risk factors was common. Ten-year risk for developing CHD risk in Korean women was comparable to that of women in the U.S. However, the proportion of Korean women who were not at AHA guideline goals was substantial. Furthermore, there was a significant treatment gap in Korean women. The findings of this study suggest that Korean women free of CVD need to be treated more intensively. Aggressive risk reduction efforts are urgently needed to prevent CHD in Korean women.