Dr. Lori Mosca, a professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, said in 2012, 56 percent of U.S. women identified heart disease as the leading cause of death compared with 30 percent in 1997.
In 1997, 35 percent said women were more likely to cite cancer than heart disease as the leading killer versus the 30 percent who said heart disease, but in 2012, only 24 percent cited cancer as the leading killer of women.
In 2012, 36 percent of black women and 34 percent of Hispanic women identified heart disease as the top killer. All women ages 25-34 had the lowest awareness rate of any age group at 44 percent.
The study showed barriers and motivators to engage in a heart healthy lifestyle were different for younger women, who also said their doctors were less likely to talk to them about heart disease, Mosca, the lead author, said.
"This is a missed opportunity," Mosca said in a statement. "Habits established in younger women can have lifelong rewards. We need to speak to the new generation."
The survey of 1,200 women age 25 and older was taken in August to October. The results were compared to similar surveys taken in 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009. No further survey details were provided.