Routine heart check-ups are not just important for persons with cardiovascular problems, but also for healthy men and women. These exams determine whether the heart is functioning normally or if there are any causes for concern. Probably the most common questions about these check-ups are how much they cost or what to expect. You’ll find the answers in this post. Scroll down to learn more about the heart check-up costs and everything this process entails.
When Do You Need a Heart Check-up?
A common misconception is that routine heart check-up is only something persons with heart problems should. Even if you’re healthy and have no cardiovascular condition, you still need to get heart screening tests as precaution measures.
That’s the best way for a doctor to evaluate your health, detect potential irregularities in time, and prevent more serious problems.
The American Heart Association recommends the following heart-health screenings:
- Blood pressure test – starting at the age of 20, at least once every two years;
- Blood cholesterol test – starting at the age of 20, at least once every four to six years;
- Blood glucose test – starting around ages 40 or 45, at least once every three years;
- BMI measurement – during regular annual check-ups.
Your doctor may advise you to start with routine check-ups earlier than usual if you’re in a high-risk group of developing heart disease.
For example, you may need to get more frequent heart-health check-ups if you have hypertension, high blood glucose, and cholesterol, a family history of heart disease, or if you’re overweight or obese.
Other factors that call for more frequent routine check-ups include atrial fibrillation, prediabetes or diabetes, pregnancy complications. Smokers should also get routine heart check-ups more frequently.
What Are the Costs of a Heart Check-up?
Heart check-up costs are not the same everywhere or for everyone. For example, you could have your heart exam at little to no cost depending on your location or health insurance coverage.
The exact costs depend on the actual tests you’re going to get. For instance, if you need an echocardiogram and have insurance, your provider may cover 10% to 50% of the total costs unless the test is necessary to help diagnose or monitor a heart problem, in which case the costs are covered. On the flip side, if you don’t have health insurance, you may need to pay $1000 to $3000 for an echocardiogram, including a $200 to $300 fee to a cardiologist as a fee for interpretation.
Men and women without health insurance may want to check federal health centers that offer essential health services regardless of the ability to pay. You can find the qualified health center near you by clicking here.
Yet another option for more affordable heart check-ups is to look for pharmacies that offer free heart check-ups in February.
You can find many of those pharmacies around because February is National Heart Health Month, and they’re trying to raise awareness.
Under the Affordable Care Act, basic heart check-ups may come at no cost if you have heart insurance. But if you need to do additional tests, you may need to pay them.
Costs of heart check-ups are not that easy to find in many cases. One study investigated this problem and found that three out of 20 hospitals gave a price for EKG. The costs ranged from $137 to $1200. These findings confirm results from previous research on this topic. Lack of transparency in hospitals prevents patients from comparing prices and find the most affordable option.
What To Expect During Heart Check-Ups?
Many people are nervous before a heart check-up, especially if they’ve never done it before. Not knowing what to expect gives a boost to that nervousness. But these tests are simple, straightforward, and necessary for a thorough evaluation of your heart. Depending on your overall health and other factors, the doctor may order routine tests only or ask for additional tests as well.
During the check-up, your doctor will ask several questions about your lifestyle and health.
Your healthcare provider will want to know more about your physical activity levels, diet, and whether you’re a smoker.
They will also ask questions about personal and family medical history and ask if you’ve been experiencing changes in your health recently.
Routine tests include:
- Blood pressure test;
- BMI measurement;
- Blood cholesterol test;
- Blood glucose test.
In some cases, routine tests may include hs-CRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein) testing, a marker of inflammation or infection.
These are typical tests a person usually does during a heart check-up.
Routine tests may be accompanied by additional tests in some cases, especially when results point to the presence of heart disease. The additional tests usually include:
- Electrocardiography (ECG) – records heart’s electrical activity;
- Echocardiography – assesses heart valves and shows problems with heart’s pumping function;
- Exercise cardiac stress test – to evaluate heart’s response to physical stress;
- Nuclear stress test – to determine how blood is flowing through your heart;
- Coronary CT angiography (CTA) – to see whether there’s plaque buildup in coronary arteries;
- Cardiac CT scan for calcium scoring – also to check for plaque buildup in coronary arteries;
- Coronary catheter angiography – to check for narrowing or blockage of coronary arteries.
Heart check-up costs vary, but many hospitals don’t easily reveal them. Persons with health insurance may get heart-health screening at a low cost or have their insurance provider cover everything. Check with your health insurance provider first. If you don’t have health insurance, there are several options to get your screening at lower costs.
One of the financially more appealing ways, that pays off, in the long run, are personal ECG devices and connected apps. With these heart monitoring solutions, you can easily check your heart condition on your own, whenever you want, from any place in the world, while staying connected to your doctor. These are win-win solutions as they increase the chances of timely detect heart abnormalities and, therefore decrease possible health expenditures.