Heart health can mean the difference between a good quality of life as we age and one with serious disabilities. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, and people with heart disease may have no symptoms. “Cardiovascular” or heart care can be critical.
The risk of many forms of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke increases with age. And, like it or not, we are growing older. Heart disease is also associated with factors that are within our control: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and cigarette smoking.
We can dramatically reduce our risk for most forms of heart disease and stroke by controlling these risk factors with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and smoking cessation. (Medicare covers nutritional counseling, weight counseling, and smoking cessation counseling.)
The National Institutes of Health recommends that you stay aware of blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels to keep them within a healthy range. More than one in three adults have high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease.
Have a doctor check your blood pressure each year. Medicare covers the full cost of an annual blood pressure screening during your Welcome to Medicare visit and each year after that during your Annual Wellness visit. Your medical screening should include:
- Discussion about aspirin use: Men and women between the ages of 55 and 79 should generally take an aspirin a day. And, daily aspirin is often recommended for men beginning at 45, ten years before women.
- Blood pressure screening: Recommended for all adults.
- Behavioral counseling: A healthy diet is highly recommended.
To identify conditions that could lead to heart attack or stroke and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, Medicare also covers three important cardiovascular screening blood tests every five years, if ordered by a doctor:
- triglyceride levels
You can benefit from coverage with no out-of-pocket costs. If you have:
- Traditional Medicare: See a doctor who takes assignment, who accepts Medicare’s rate as payment in full.
- Medicare Advantage, private Medicare plan: See an in-network provider.
For some people with serious heart conditions, Medicare also covers cardiac rehabilitation programs.
Here’s more from Just Care:
- Advil and Aleve increase risk of stroke and heart attack
- How young is your heart?
- What is a silent heart attack?
- If you want easy health care access and good quality care, you probably want traditional Medicare.
- For more information on the differences between traditional Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan, click here.
- For more tips on heart health, read Your Guide to a Healthy Heart from the National Institutes of Health.