Agency on Aging

Women & Heart Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. The CDC reports that “over 60 million women (44%) in the United States are living with some form of heart disease.”  Given that there is less awareness of this disease, advocating and screening is critical — particularly for older women.

There are differences in heart disease between men and women. John Hopkins Medicine reports: “Women can develop symptoms that are subtler and harder to detect as a heart attack, especially if the physician is only looking for the "usual" heart attack symptoms. Women are much more likely to have atypical heart attack symptoms."

 The American Heart Association reports: “As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women may experience other symptoms that are typically less associated with heart attack, such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Women are also more likely to ignore their symptoms.

 As with other diseases, Medicare provides preventive benefits to reduce the negative consequences of heart disease.

Medicare covers services to help prevent, diagnose, treat, or manage heart disease:

Listed below are some of the preventive benefits available to you to reduce your risk of heart disease death.

 Preventive visits – “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit (within the first 12 months you have Part B)

•         Yearly “Wellness” visit

•         Cardiovascular screening and behavioral therapy

•         Clinical laboratory services (lab test)

•         Help to quit smoking

•         Prescription drugs if you have Medicare drug coverage (Part D)

 Note: You may have to meet certain criteria to be covered. Coinsurance and/or deductibles may apply.

 Begin with your yearly wellness visit and learn whether you have heart disease or are at high risk of developing heart disease and utilize your preventive benefits to reduce your risk of dying from heart disease.