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Cardiovascular disease risk factors among women veterans at VA medical facilities.

Vimalananda VG, Miller DR, Christiansen CL, Wang W, Tremblay P, Fincke BG. Cardiovascular disease risk factors among women veterans at VA medical facilities. Journal of general internal medicine. 2013 Jul 1; 28 Suppl 2:S517-23.

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BACKGROUND: Hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and obesity in middle adulthood each elevate the long-term risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The prevalence of these conditions among women veterans is incompletely described. OBJECTIVE: To describe the prevalence of CVD risk factors among women veterans in middle adulthood. DESIGN: Serial cross-sectional studies of data from the Diabetes Epidemiologic Cohorts (DEpiC), a national, longitudinal data set including information on all patients in the Veterans Health Administration (VA). PARTICIPANTS: Women veterans (n = 255,891) and men veterans (n = 2,271,605) aged 35-64 receiving VA care in fiscal year (FY) 2010. MAIN MEASURES: Prevalence of CVD risk factors in FY2010 by age and, for those aged 45-54 years, by race, region, period of military service, priority status, and mental illness or substance abuse; prevalence by year from 2000 to 2010 in women veterans receiving VA care in both 2000 and 2010 who were free of the factor in 2000. KEY RESULTS: Hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes were common among women and men, although more so among men. Hypertension was present in 13 % of women aged 35-44 years, 28 % of women aged 45-54, and 42 % of women aged 55-64. Hyperlipidemia prevalence was similar. Diabetes affected 4 % of women aged 35-44, and increased more than four-fold in prevalence to 18 % by age 55-64. The prevalence of obesity increased from 14 % to 18 % with age among women and was similarly prevalent in men. The relative rate of having two or more CVD risk factors in women compared to men increased progressively with age, from 0.55 (35-44 years) to 0.71 (45-54) to 0.73 (55-64). Most of the women with a factor present in 2010 were first diagnosed with the condition in the 10 years between 2000 and 2010. CONCLUSIONS: CVD risk factors are common among women veterans aged 35-64. Future research should investigate which interventions would most effectively reduce risk in this population.

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