Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. If you are at risk for a heart attack or stroke, or if heart disease runs in your family, preventive care and early detection may be critical for your wellbeing. Seniors with Medicare may be interested in genetic testing and screening for conditions that may lead to heart disease. Click the link below to see if you qualify for testing and screening today.
Eligibility for Testing
Medicare Part B covers a cardiovascular disease screening once every five years at no cost to you when ordered by your healthcare provider. You do not need to exhibit signs of heart disease or qualify for any particular risk factors in order to undergo testing.
These blood tests help to detect heart disease early by measuring cholesterol, blood fat (lipids), and triglyceride levels.
What to Expect
During your screening, your doctor may encourage the use of aspirin if the benefits outweigh the risks and you are a man ages 45 to 79 or a woman ages 55 to 79. Your doctor may also screen for high blood pressure or provide behavioral counseling and tips to encourage the implementation of a healthy diet.
You may also be screened for an aneurysm if you have a family history of aortic aneurysm, or if you are a male between the ages of 65 and 75 with a history of smoking.
Throughout the course of your heart disease screening, your doctor may diagnose or treat a new or existing health issue. This additional care is considered to be diagnostic, meaning that Medicare may bill you for any diagnostic care received during a preventive visit.
Genetic Testing for Heart Disease
According to the American Heart Association, about one-third of all Americans will experience heart disease during their lifetime. While most cases of cardiovascular disease are caused by lifestyle choices, genetics can play a significant role in your predisposition to heart disease.
Examples of heart conditions that can be passed down hereditarily include cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, and arteriopathy. Cardiomyopathy makes it difficult for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body, which may lead to heart failure. An arrhythmia is an irregular heartbeat that occurs when the heart beats too fast or too slow. Arteriopathy is any disease of the artery.
Genetic testing can help to diagnose gene mutations that may lead to a heart condition. This may reveal an indication of increased risk of developing heart conditions down the line, as well as any risk factors that may lead other family members to make decisions regarding their own health. Genetic testing may encourage seniors to improve lifestyle behaviors, such as quitting smoking, exercising more often, or maintaining a healthier diet.
Symptoms of Cardiovascular Disease
A person with heart disease may not show symptoms until the condition has progressed considerably. Heart palpitations are a symptom of arrhythmia, while individuals having a heart attack may experience:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme fatigue
Heart disease is usually managed or treated with prescription medications. These prescription maintenance drugs are only covered by Medicare Part C or D. Part D plans are available from Medicare-approved private companies. Part C, otherwise known as a Medicare Advantage plan, are “all-in-one” replacements for original Medicare.
Most Medicare Advantage plans, which are also available through private insurance providers, include prescription drug coverage.
Someone experiencing heart failure may have symptoms such as:
- Swelling (edema) of feet and ankles
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
It is important not to ignore these symptoms and seek medical care immediately. On the other hand, seniors may not experience any symptoms, which is why preventive care and screenings are integral to one’s overall health.
Treatments and Pricing
If you are eligible for testing, original Medicare totally covers screening blood tests for heart disease, meaning that you won’t pay a dime. Medicare Advantage plans cover heart disease screenings without applying deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance when you meet the eligibility requirements and visit a provider within the network.
Medicare Part B will cover one cardiovascular behavioral therapy session with your doctor each year. This therapy includes a blood pressure check and receiving information on heart-healthy diets. It is designed to help you lower your risk for heart disease. As long as your provider accepts the Medicare-approved amount, you will not pay anything out of pocket.
Get Tested Today
If you are at risk for heart disease, there are many steps you can take to help prevent conditions from manifesting, such as genetic testing or lifestyle changes. Both original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage of screenings, tests, procedures, and surgery for heart disease.
If seniors with original Medicare need prescription drug coverage, they may be able to receive it through a Part D plan. Seniors with an Advantage plan are not eligible to buy a Part D plan, but most Advantage plans offer prescription drug coverage.
Talk to your doctor today about the benefits of undergoing testing to determine your risk of hereditary or lifestyle-induced heart disease.