Key Takeaways

  • The No. 1 cause of death for people aged 65 and older in the United States is heart disease.

  • If you have Medicare, you can receive a free cardiovascular heart disease screening annually.

  • Use these four easy-to-do practices to reduce your risk for heart disease and live a long and healthy life.

While strides are being made in health care to reduce the number of people affected by heart disease, it’s still not enough. Some of the most important things individuals can do to reduce their risk of heart disease is getting adequate exercise every week and taking advantage of your Medicare preventive benefits.

We’ve created a list of easy-to-do practices for you to reduce your risk for heart disease and live a long and healthy life.

1. Heart Disease Screenings

If you have Medicare, you can receive a free cardiovascular heart disease screening annually, though you may need to a pay a copay depending on your coverage. Heart disease screenings check your blood pressure and cholesterol to ensure you are not at risk for a stroke or heart disease. During the screening, your doctor may provide you with tips and resources to improve your health, such as adjusting your eating habits and incorporating health supplements into your weekly routine.

2. Diabetes Screening & Management

Diabetes is a serious health condition that causes your body to under-produce and/or not use insulin in the right way. Over time, high blood glucose from diabetes can damage your blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels, increasing your risk of developing heart disease. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the chance that you will develop heart disease.

If you notice unwarranted weight loss, increased urination, blurry vision, or you start to feel more tired, hungry, or thirstier than usual, contact your doctor right away for your Medicare-covered screening. The good news is that the steps you take to manage your diabetes also help to lower your chances of having heart disease or stroke.

3. Chronic Disease Self-Management

Eighty percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 68 percent have at least two. If you have a chronic condition like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, you significantly increase your risk of developing heart disease, along with many other conditions. Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs (CDSMP) are six-week long interactive workshops (online or in-person) that help attendees manage conditions, improve quality of life, and lower health care costs. To find a CDSMP in your community, contact your local Area Agency on Aging.

4. Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Your body is a temple, and you should treat it as such. Improving your diet and making small changes to your daily routine can drastically improve your health and reduce your risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions.

A great first step would be reducing your intake of processed foods and adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. Medicare offers nutrition therapy that can provide advice on what to eat and help manage factors that may impact your healthy lifestyle.

Smoking also increases your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions by damaging your blood vessels. Medicare also offers eight in-person sessions a year to help beneficiaries quit smoking.

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