Medicare Memo: Women, Protect Your Heart Health

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Medicare Memo: Women, Protect Your Heart Health

 

women heart health medicare informationHeart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the United States.* Are you doing all you can to keep your heart healthy?

Heart disease is a term that describes a number of heart health problems. People often use it to mean coronary artery disease, the most common kind of heart disease.

Coronary artery disease is a disorder of the blood vessels of the heart. The blood vessels become blocked, which slows or prevents oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart. This can lead to a heart attack.

Are You at Risk?

Health risk factors are conditions or habits that make it more likely that a person will develop a disease. Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • High blood pressure

  • High blood cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • Smoking

  • Being overweight

  • Being physically inactive

  • A family history of early heart disease

  • Age (55 or older for women)

You can reduce some of these risk factors and help prevent heart disease through healthy lifestyle choices. Healthy choices include being physically active and limiting fat in your diet. A healthy lifestyle can even help treat existing heart disease.

It’s a Good Time to Consider Your Heart Health

September 26 is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. Many communities plan to hold fitness and health events for women at local sites such as hospitals, schools, houses of worship and senior centers.

The focus on fitness is important for older women and heart health. Inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease. Even a 30-minute walk three or four times a week can make a difference. Yet, consider this from a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Health, United States, 2011):

  • 57% of women aged 55-64 fall short of meeting the federal physical activity guidelines for adults; this jumps to nearly 64% for ages 65-74

  • By age 75, over 75% of women fail to get the recommended amount of physical activity

National Women’s Health and Fitness Day may be just what you need to get your body moving. Events include fitness walks, exercise demonstrations, health fairs and health information workshops. Check your local newspaper and web sites for information about events near you.

Don’t Forget Your Yearly Medicare Wellness Visit

Medicare Part B covers one preventive care visit every year. It’s a good idea to take advantage of this benefit. It can help prevent health problems or find them early when they can be best treated.

At the visit, your doctor will:

  • Review your health status and prescriptions

  • Check your blood pressure, vision, height and weight

  • Make sure your preventive screenings and services are up to date

  • Order further tests, if needed

This visit is also a good time to check with your doctor about your physical activity and eating habits. Your doctor can help you create a healthy lifestyle plan that works for you.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site, last updated March 23, 2012

 

Resources:

Medicare Part B Coverage: Information about your preventive services benefit and more at MedicareMadeClear.com

The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women: National Institutes of Health publication

 

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