Heart Smart Tips from the FDA

heartMore women die from heart disease than from any other cause. In fact, one in four women in the United States dies from heart disease, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

“The risk of heart disease increases for everyone as they age,” says cardiologist Shari Targum, M.D., a medical officer at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “For women, the risk goes up after menopause, but younger women can also develop heart disease.”

FDA offers many resources to help educate women of all ages about the safe use of FDA-approved drugs and devices for the treatment and prevention of heart disease. FDA has fact sheets, videos, and other web-based tools on heart disease and conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure that may increase a woman’s risk for heart disease.

FDA created the “Heart Health for Women” site to connect women to FDA resources to support heart-healthy living. Visit the website at: www.fda.gov/womenshearthealth

“I encourage women of all ages to look to FDA for resources to help them reduce their risk for heart disease and make informed decisions about their health,” says Marsha Henderson, director of the Office of Women’s Health at FDA.

Heart Health for Women

When you think about heart disease, you probably imagine heart attacks and chest pain. But women need to know that heart health is about more than just heart attacks. Women need to take steps to reduce their risk for heart disease:

  • Manage conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that can increase your risk for heart disease.
  • Learn to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack in women, including nausea, anxiety, an ache or feeling of tightness in the chest, and pain in the upper body.
  • Use the Nutrition Label to make heart-healthy food choices.
  • Daily use of aspirin is not right for everyone. Talk with a health care professional before you use aspirin as a way to prevent heart attacks.
  • If you smoke, try to quit. See our booklet to learn more about medicines to help you quit.
  • Talk to a health professional about whether you can participate in a clinical trial for a heart medication or procedure. Visit the FDA Patient Network to learn more about clinical trials.

Menopause and Heart Health

“Menopause does not cause heart disease,” says Targum. “But the decline in estrogen after menopause may be one of several factors in the increase in heart disease risk.” Other risks, such as weight gain, may also increase around the time of menopause.

Hormone therapy is used to treat some of the problems women have during menopause. “However, the American Heart Association recommends against using post-menopausal estrogen hormone replacement therapy to prevent heart disease,” says Targum.

Make a Plan, Take Action

Work with your health care team to make a plan for your heart health. Whatever your regimen, make sure to keep a list of your medicines and bring it with you to all of your appointments.



The Affordable Care Act and Women

affordable care act

The following information from HHS.gov/Health Care provides an overview of the coverage and services available to women now, and beginning in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act.

Applicable Now Under the Affordable Care Act

  • 26.9 million women with private health insurance gained expanded preventive services with no cost-sharing in 2011 and 2012, including mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, flu and pneumonia shots, and regular well-baby and well-child visits.
  • As of August 1, 2012 many health plans now cover additional preventive services with no cost-sharing, including well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, domestic violence screening, breastfeeding supplies and contraceptive services.
  • 24.7 million women enrolled in Medicare received preventive services without cost-sharing in 2011, including an annual wellness visit, a personalized prevention plan, mammograms, and bone mass measurement for women at risk of osteoporosis.
  • 1.1 million women between ages 19 and 25 who would have been uninsured have coverage under their parent’s employer-sponsored or individually purchased health insurance plan.
  • More than 2 million women enrolled in Medicare saved $1.2 billion in 2011 due to improvements in prescription drug coverage.
  • Major federal investments in care innovations such as community health teams are improving the management of chronic diseases, which are prevalent among women.

 Applicable in 2014 and Thereafter Under the Affordable Care Act

  • An estimated 8.7 million American women currently purchasing individual insurance will gain coverage for maternity services.
  • Insurance companies in the individual and small group markets will no longer be permitted to charge higher rates due to gender or health status.
  • 18.6 million uninsured women will have new opportunities for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • State Medicaid programs will be able to offer more opportunities to women who need personal assistance or long-term care and wish to stay at home and in the community, rather than enter a nursing home.

Last Updated: July 30, 2013



Affordable Health Care Act, Women and Families

Health Care and womenMost of us are not sure what the Affordable Health Care Act means for women and families.

The following is a summary  about what this law means for us. It is from HealthCare.gov.

  • Insurance Companies Can’t Deny Coverage to Women. Before the Affordable Care Act became law, insurance companies selling individual policies could deny coverage to women due to pre-existing conditions, such as cancer and having been pregnant. Under the law, insurance companies are already banned from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. In 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition.
  • Women Have a Choice of Doctor. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, all Americans joining new insurance plans have the freedom to choose from any primary care provider, OB-GYN, or pediatrician in their health plan’s network, or emergency care outside of the plan’s network, without a referral.

  • Women Pay Lower Health Care Costs. Before the law, women could be charged more for individual insurance policies simply because of their gender. A 22-year-old woman could be charged 150% the premium that a 22-year-old man paid. In 2014, insurers will not be able to charge women higher premiums than they charge men. The law takes strong action to control health care costs, including helping states crack down on excessive premium increases and making sure most of your premium dollars go for your health care.

The following is a summary  about what this law means for your family and extended family. This summary also comes from HealthCare.gov.

  • Delivering New Coverage Options for Americans with Pre-existing Conditions. Health plans that cover children can no longer exclude, limit or deny coverage to your child (under age 19) based on a pre-existing condition. In addition, the law created a new program called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) to help provide coverage for uninsured people with pre-existing conditions until new insurance market rules that prohibit discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition go into effect in 2014.
  • Providing Consumers with New Rights and Protections: The Patient’s Bill of Rights. The Affordable Care Act frees Americans from worrying about losing their insurance, or having it capped unexpectedly if someone is in an accident or becomes sick, giving you greater control over your health insurance and care. It also places tough restrictions on health insurance companies to make them more accountable to you.
  • Requiring Plans to Cover Preventive Services Without Out-of-Pocket Costs. The law requires new health plans to cover recommended preventive services, including vaccinations, cost-free. Regular well-baby and well-child visits are also covered from birth through age 21. These services do not require a copay or co-insurance when offered by providers in your insurer’s network. See a list of preventive services for women and children. (Preventive services benefits apply if you’re in a new health plan that was created after March 23, 2010.)

  • Allowing Children Under 26 to Stay on Their Parents’ Plan. If your plan covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 (except, in some cases, when your child’s employer offers health coverage). It doesn’t matter whether your child is married, living with you, in school, or financially dependent on you.
  • Help for Family Members on Medicare. If your parents or other loved ones are on Medicare, it’s good to know the Affordable Care Act protects current benefits, strengthens Medicare for the future, and offers new benefits that will help cut costs. The gap in drug coverage known as the “donut hole” is being closed, reducing seniors’ out-of-pocket costs. In addition, people on Medicare may receive recommended preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies for free.

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