| Tue, Feb 13, 2018 @ 09:00 AM

Could High Cholesterol Be Harming Your Heart?

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

senior women working out in gym togetherHigh cholesterol may increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.

People with high cholesterol sometimes have a condition called coronary artery disease, or “hardening of the arteries.” This happens when there’s a build-up of cholesterol and “bad” fat, which can narrow the inside of the artery. A narrowed artery may stop the flow of oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart or brain. This can result in a heart attack or stroke.

Find out if you have high cholesterol.

A cholesterol screening test shows the levels of triglycerides and the different types of cholesterol in your blood.

  • Triglycerides are fat and can cause build-up and blockage in the arteries.
  • LDL is “bad” cholesterol and can cause build-up and blockage in the arteries.
  • HDL is “good” cholesterol and helps remove cholesterol from the arteries. 1

Cholesterol levels are recorded in milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL).

A healthy total cholesterol level should be low. A reading of less than 200mg/dL is healthy. A healthy LDL “bad” cholesterol level should also be low. A reading of less than 100mg/dL is healthy. However, a healthy HDL “good” cholesterol level should be high. A reading of 60 mg/dL and higher is healthy.

It’s important to understand cholesterol numbers and what they mean.

Treatment for high cholesterol may include medication or lifestyle changes such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthy, low-fat diet
  • Not smoking

Cholesterol screening tests are covered by Medicare.

Medicare Part B covers one cholesterol screening test every five years. It also covers one visit per year to discuss your risk for heart disease, to check your blood pressure, and to create a healthy eating plan.

Some Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) may cover cholesterol screening tests more often. Many plans also offer additional benefits, like coverage for prescription drugs, gym memberships and weight loss and smoking cessation programs—helpful to some people who are trying to lower their cholesterol. Check your plan materials or contact your plan directly for information about coverage for cholesterol screening tests and other preventive services.

Medicare Part D covers drugs to treat high cholesterol. Check with your plan’s drug formulary for a list of drugs covered.

Cholesterol screening tests need to be ordered by a doctor and performed in a doctor’s office or clinic to be covered by Medicare. Medicare pays the full cost of the test. The Part B deductible does not apply. There is no out-of-pocket cost to you as long as the doctor accepts Medicare assignment.

Your doctor may recommend you have tests more often than Medicare will cover. You may have to pay some or all of the cost for any additional tests.


High cholesterol may be preventable and treatable if you know you’re at risk. But you need to know your cholesterol numbers and what they mean. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about high cholesterol and what preventive screening tests you may need.

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For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


Cholesterol Levels: What You Need to Know, NIH Medline Plus, The National Institutes of Health and the Friends of the National Library of Medicine, Summer 2012 Issue: Volume 7 Number 2 Page 6-7

What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean, American Heart Association, Heart.org, April, 21, 2014

Cholesterol, American Heart Association, Heart.org, January 21, 2016

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