Women's Heart Care

Women's Heart Health

Regardless of age or gender, maintaining heart health is important, but did you know that women are particularly at risk of heart disease? Women face specific concerns around cardiovascular health, especially as they age. More women die from heart disease than any other condition. Because many women are unaware that their risk factor is so high, it’s common for them to not even know about the importance of regular cardiovascular check-ups.

However, according to the American Heart Association, heart disease and stroke affect about 44 million women in the United States. In fact, cardiovascular disease kills one woman every 80 seconds and accounts for one in three women’s deaths each year.

What is the purpose of a women’s heart screening?

A women’s heart screening can detect signs of heart disease, allowing patients to work with their doctors to help them avoid more serious health issues related to their condition. Monitoring heart health is particularly important for women because of:

Risk factors: Women have a higher lifetime risk of stroke than men. About 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke.

Heart attacks: Women are less likely than men to survive their first heart attack. Women’s heart attack symptoms can be different than men’s, so it is important for women to understand their symptoms.

Prevention: Education and lifestyle changes can dramatically decrease a women’s likelihood of developing heart disease or having a stroke by 80 percent.

Who should get a heart screening?

Because of the particularly high risk of heart disease, it is recommended that women over the age of 40 begin getting regular heart screenings. For women who have a history of heart conditions in their family, or who had signs of a heart condition at birth, regular heart screenings should be integrated into their medical care plan.

How can women reduce their risk of heart disease?

Managing heart health means regular monitoring of blood pressure, cholesterol and knowing your specific risk factors for heart disease. At Memorial we offer:

Comprehensive women’s heart screenings: Depending on your specific risk factors, our heart screening packages for low risk and intermediate risk patients are designed to monitor, assess and reduce your risk of heart disease or heart attack. Depending on the results of your screening, we can determine your 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke. If we do find that you are at risk, we will help you develop a plan that includes lifestyle changes including diet, exercise habits and stress reduction that can help reduce that risk dramatically.

Collaboration with other women’s specialists: Heart disease can affect women of all ages. Sometimes heart disease is linked to other conditions and requires collaboration with other specialists to monitor and treat. Our specialists at Memorial Cardiac & Vascular Institute together to provide high-quality care to women with heart conditions

What can women expect during a heart screening?

We offer two types of screening packages for women: Low Risk and Intermediate Risk. The screening package used in your evaluation is determined based on your individual risk factors for heart disease.

Low Risk Heart Screening

We recommend the Low Risk plan for women who have no symptoms of heart problems and no immediate relatives with heart disease or a history of heart attack. The plan includes:

  • Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk assessment. We estimate your 10-year and lifetime risk for developing heart disease – the cause of most heart attacks and stroke. ASCVD risk factors include age, sex, race, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, use of blood pressure-lowering medications, diabetes status, and smoking status
  • Blood pressure check
  • Body mass index (BMI) measurement
  • Cholesterol analysis
  • Coronary artery disease (CAD) risk factor assessment
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) - a noninvasive test that records your heart’s electrical activity
  • Glucose analysis – a test to measure your blood sugar
  • Medical history evaluation and physical exam
  • Individual prevention plan - helps reduce your ASCVD risk
  • Pregnancy history evaluation - hypertension, diabetes or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy

Intermediate Risk Heart Screening

The Intermediate Risk heart screening is recommended for women with a strong family history of heart disease, hypertension or diabetes. A strong family history means that at least one immediate family member has heart disease or died of a heart attack at a young age.

The Intermediate Risk screening plan includes everything from the Low Risk plan, plus:

  • Screening echocardiogram - an imaging test that examines how efficiently your heart functions.
  • Hemoglobin A1c test (HbgA1c) - a blood test to determine your risk of diabetes.
  • Microalbuminuria test - a urine test to detect early kidney disease. 

For patients with an increased risk of heart disease or diabetes, or for those who may have heart health issues that can’t be detected through traditional testing, we offer:

Heart Scan (Heart Calcium CT Scoring)
This test is used for women and men with an increased risk of heart disease or diabetes. A heart scan (heart calcium CT scoring) uses a type of X-ray that lets us look at the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. This helps us determine if there is a buildup of plaque narrowing or blocking the opening in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. If there is enough plaque buildup to pose a potential issue, additional testing may be required.

Microvascular Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment
Microvascular disease affects the heart’s tiny arteries, which are more difficult to see by traditional screening. It is far more common in women than men. Traditional screening techniques usually fail to detect microvascular disease because it occurs in the heart’s tiny arteries, which are more difficult to see. A common symptom of microvascular disease is chest pain. At Memorial, we are working to diagnose and treat women who have this type of chest pain and two of our cardiologists are currently studying how this disease can affect heart attack risk.

NOTE: Microvascular Disease Diagnosis and Testing is not part of the Screening Packages and may be covered by health insurance. 

What happens after a heart screening?

After your heart screening, our nurse practitioners will review your results with you that same day. We will also send a copy of your results to your primary care doctor.

If further medical testing or treatment is required, your primary care doctor can refer you to a cardiologist, or we will recommend a cardiologist from our Memorial Cardiac & Vascular Institute who specializes in women with heart disease.

How much does a women’s heart screening cost? 

Please check with your insurance provider to discuss your coverage. Additional testing following these screenings may not be covered by insurance. Any follow-up care that is required after your testing, is usually covered by health insurance.  

Request a Women’s Heart Screening Appointment

To schedule an appointment or learn more about women’s heart health at Memorial, call 954-265-7900.

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