Skip to main content

Table 4 Variables to consider in studies of woman’s cardiovascular disease and risk

From: Strategies and methods to study female-specific cardiovascular health and disease: a guide for clinical scientists

General risk factors Information to capture
Age  
Height/weight BMI
Waist circumference  
Smoking status Prior, current
History of hypertension Blood pressure
Blood lipids (HDL, LDL, triglycerides)  
Diabetes, glucose, insulin,  
Inflammation: hsCRP  
History of chronic inflammatory disease (Asthma, inflammatory rheumatologic disease, migraine, inflammatory bowel disease)
Prior cancer Type (breast, etc), chest radiation, chemotherapy
Prior CVD Angina, myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular disease, coronary revascularization procedures, peripheral arterial disease, heart failure
Sex-specific or less conventional risk factors
Pregnancy-related variables Questions to ascertain information
Parity Number of pregnancies lasting >20 weeks
Fetal deaths Number of miscarriages <20 weeks, stillbirths
History of preeclampsia Have you ever had preeclampsia or toxemia?
History of gestational hypertension Have you ever had gestational hypertension (pregnancy-related high blood pressure or pregnancy-induced hypertension)?
History of gestational diabetes Have you ever had gestational diabetes (new onset diabetes of pregnancy)?
Offspring birthweight and gestation length (when assessed together, this allows calculation of small-for-gestational age and large-for-gestational age) Birthweight of each child (lbs and ounces) and gestation length:
Low birthweight Have you ever delivered an infant weighing less than 5 lbs 8 oz (less than 2500 g)?
Macrosomia (indicative of gestational diabetes) Have you ever delivered an infant weighing more than 10 lbs (more than 4500 g)?
Menopause-related variables Questions to ascertain information
Menopausal status Have your natural menstrual periods ceased permanently? (No; Yes—no menstrual periods; Yes—had menopause but now periods induced by hormones; Not sure)
At what age did natural periods stop?
For what reason? (natural; surgical; radiation or chemotherapy; others)
Did you have a hysterectomy, if so at what age
Did you have removal of ovary (unilateral or bilateral) and if so, at what age
Current use of hormones Are you currently using:
- Oral contraceptives,
- Transdermal hormone therapy
- Vaginal hormone therapy
Have you ever used these therapies?
Menstrual regularity What is the current usual pattern of your menstrual cycles (when not pregnant, lactating, or on the pill): extremely regular (no more than 1–2 days before or after expected); very regular (within 3–4 days); regular (within 5–6 days); usually irregular; always irregular; no periods
Psychosocial Variables Questions to ascertain information
History of violent abuse Before age 18, did any adult in your family:
- Push, grab, or shove you
- Kick, bite, or punch you
- Hit you with something that hurt your body
- Choke or burn you
- Force you into sexual activity by threatening you, holding you down, or hurting you in some way when you did not want to
- Physically attack you in some other way
Responses: never; once; a few times; more than a few times
Since age 18, has anyone (repeat above)
Current depression screener Clinical screener recommended by USPSTF:
- Over the past 2 weeks, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?
- Over the past 2 weeks, have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?
Antidepressant use (e.g., Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Pamelor, Cymbalta)
More formal screening tools include:
- Beck Depression Inventory
- General Health Questionnaire
- Center for Epidemiologic Study Depression Scales (CES-D)
- Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ 9 (Quick Depression Assessment)
History of depression screener In your lifetime, have you ever had 2 weeks or longer when nearly every day you felt sad, blue, or depressed for most of the day?
Did you ever tell a doctor or mental health specialist that you were feeling depressed?
Has a health provider ever diagnosed you with depression?
Current psychosocial stress Short version of Cohen Perceived Stress Scale:
In the last month, how often have you
- felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?
- felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems?
- felt that things were going your way?
- felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?
Reponses: never; almost never; sometimes; fairly often; very often