Medicare and High Blood Pressure: What You Need to Know
At any age, you have heard ample warnings about the dangers of high blood pressure. As a senior over 60, those warnings have probably ramped up. In fact, one in three Americans has high blood pressure.
You can have high blood pressure — also known as hypertension — and have no physical symptoms, but it can lead to a serious risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of your health and regularly visit your doctor to test your blood pressure.
So, does Medicare offer coverage for services related to high blood pressure? Keep reading!
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What Is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. When your doctor measures your blood pressure, they are looking for two numbers representing the ways your blood enters and releases from your heart.
A normal blood pressure reading for an adult is 120/80. The top number – 120 – is called systolic, and the bottom number – 80 – is called diastolic. The top number refers to the amount of pressure in your arteries while your heart muscle contracts. The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats.
If your blood pressure is too high, you’re at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
The chance of having high blood pressure drastically increases as you get older because changes occur in your vascular system that cause your arteries to stiffen.
High blood pressure is one of the most common diseases in the world. In 2017, 57% of all Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries had a high blood pressure diagnosis.
Is High Blood Pressure Preventable?
Even if you have heart-healthy habits, some uncontrollable factors determine high blood pressure.
- Age: Seniors are far more likely to have high blood pressure.
- Gender: Before age 55, men are far more likely to have high blood pressure. However, women are more likely to have high blood pressure after menopause.
- Family History: High blood pressure runs in some families, so keep an eye out for your status if you have family members with this issue.
- Race: Black individuals are at increased risk for high blood pressure.
Whatever your age, you can take steps to maintain your heart health. Some of the most common tips to control your blood pressure include:
- Eat a healthy diet. This advice is as old as time, and despite its simplicity, it’s one of the most effective ways to keep your blood pressure normal and prevent heart disease and stroke.
- Don’t smoke. It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your lungs, but it also raises your blood pressure and puts you at a higher risk for cardiovascular complications. If you’re a smoker, check out the CDC’s resources on quitting.
- Move your body. Doctors recommend most Americans get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise every week. You can go on a brisk walk, enjoy a bike ride, or even have a dance party. If it gets your body moving and your heart rate up, you’re doing it right!
- Get enough sleep. Sleep not only rejuvenates your mind, but it keeps your body healthy. Particularly, your blood vessels cannot stay healthy without enough sleep, so those ZZZ’s are a must!
The moral of the story: You do not have to live a life with high blood pressure side effects! There are genetic components to this issue, but you can empower yourself by putting your health first.
Is High Blood Pressure Life-Threatening?
Because high blood pressure can go unnoticed for many years, it’s essential to regularly test your blood pressure. Checking your blood pressure often may avoid the long-term damage after extensive periods of unchecked hypertension.
The strain hypertension puts on your heart can damage your organs and leave you with severe or fatal health complications.
Complications include but are not limited to:
- Heart Disease
- Heart Attack
- Poor Quality of Life
If you think you may have high blood pressure, check with a trusted medical professional as soon as possible.
Does Medicare Cover Blood Pressure Checks?
Medicare covers blood pressure checks during your “Welcome to Medicare” preventative visit and your yearly wellness visits.
If you already have high blood pressure or other health concerns, you may be interested in a device called an “ambulatory blood pressure monitor.” This device monitors your blood pressure for a full 24-48 hours, allowing your doctor to see how your blood pressure fluctuates throughout your everyday routine.
When ordered by a doctor, Medicare covers an ambulatory blood pressure monitor for use once a year. However, Medicare doesn’t cover regular blood pressure cuffs for at-home use unless you’re undergoing dialysis.
Pro tip: Get the new Medicare “What’s Covered” app to search for different treatments and see whether or not Medicare covers them!
If you’re looking to get your blood pressure checked more often than your Medicare plan covers, you can purchase an at-home blood pressure monitor. Many options cost less than $30 – just do a quick search on Amazon.
According to the American Heart Association, at-home monitoring is not a substitution for regular visits to your doctor. Additionally, you should never stop taking your medication or alter your treatment plan without talking to your doctor, even if your blood pressure numbers are reading normal.
Does Medicare Cover Blood Pressure Medication?
If you have high blood pressure and require medication to manage it, check with your Medicare Part D plan to see what drugs it covers.
In our experience, nearly all Medicare prescription drug plans cover common medications like lisinopril and metoprolol. Your costs will vary depending on your drug plan, but generic prescriptions aren’t typically more than a few dollars.
If you have questions about what your drug plan covers or you need to sign up for one, call us at 833-801-7999. We can run a free drug comparison for you.
Read More: How to Compare Medicare Part D Drug Costs
By consistently checking in on your blood pressure numbers, you are doing your future self a huge favor.
If you already have high blood pressure, don’t feel defeated. Medicare Allies has your back! From recommending healthy habits on our blog to offering a free drug comparison to make sure you are on the right medication — not only for your body but for your wallet — we’ve got you covered.
How to Compare Drug Plan Costs
Comparing drug plan costs can seem challenging, but the Medicare Part D Cheat Sheet gives you the power to do it on your own.Download Your Cheat Sheet Now
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