When’s the last time you checked your blood pressure?

Now’s the time to take a quick and easy test to see if your blood pressure is too high. High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms, but it can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

It’s important for you to know your blood pressure numbers, even when you’re feeling fine. Checking your blood pressure is easy because it’s covered in your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit and yearly “wellness” visits at no cost to you.

If you have high blood pressure, you can control it with lifestyle changes and medicine. You may be at risk for high blood pressure if you:

  • Smoke
  • Eat salty foods
  • Don’t exercise enough
  • Drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol
  • Have a family history of high blood pressure
  • Are overweight

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. Get information from the Center for Disease Control on how to fight high blood pressure and check out our video.

Take care of all of you!

This April 7, we celebrate World Health Day, a day that reminds us that to live a healthy lifestyle, we need to take care of ourselves. Medicare helps you do that with many preventive services and programs to monitor your physical health.

But, taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. The focus of this year’s World Health Day is depression, so we’re making an effort to spread the word about all of the mental health resources available to people with Medicare.

Mental health includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how you think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how you handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Medicare helps cover outpatient and inpatient mental health care, as well as partial hospitalization and screenings for depression. If you have Medicare prescription drug coverage, you may also have coverage for medications to help treat a mental health condition.

Taking care of your health is about more than just your physical health—it’s about taking care of all of you!

Think before you drink

A lot of changes happen with age, like pain, loss of mobility, and loneliness. Sometimes, this can lead to alcohol misuse. As you get older, you may become more sensitive to alcohol, and your regular drinking habits could become a problem.

Medicare covers alcohol misuse screening & counseling to provide counseling for people who misuse alcohol. Older adults who drink may be at a higher risk for falls or other injuries. Alcohol can also make some health problems worse, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems. It can also cause dangerous interactions when mixed with prescription or over-the-counter medications. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends adults 65 and over who are healthy and don’t take medications have no more than 3 drinks on a given day or 7 drinks in a week.

If you think you or a loved one could be misusing alcohol, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and now is the perfect time to get help and stay healthy.

At risk for diabetes? Take this quick test.

Diabetes affects 29 million people in the U.S.—are you one of them? Tuesday, March 28 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, and it’s a great time to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if you’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, a disease where blood glucose levels are higher than normal. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults.

Many people with diabetes don’t know that they have it, but Medicare covers screening tests so you can find out if you do.

If you have diabetes, Medicare covers many of your supplies, including insulin, test strips, monitors, lancets and control solutions. In some cases, Medicare also covers therapeutic shoes if you have diabetic foot problems. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for these supplies.

Medicare also covers diabetes self-management training to help you learn how to better manage your diabetes. You can learn how to monitor your blood sugar, control your diet, exercise, and manage your prescriptions. Talk to your doctor about how this training can help you stay healthy and avoid serious complications.

Take control of your health—talk to your doctor today about screening tests and what supplies and training may help you stay healthy.

5 ways you can prevent colorectal cancer

Did you know that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States? Make sure you’re doing everything you can to prevent it, including getting help from Medicare.

Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older. It’s National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so this is a great time to do 5 things to stop this cancer in its tracks.

  1. Get screened
  2. Exercise
  3. Maintain a healthy weight
  4. Don’t drink too much alcohol
  5. Don’t smoke

You don’t have to do it alone—Medicare covers colorectal cancer screenings to help you detect and prevent colorectal cancer, and you’ll pay nothing for most of them.

Do what you can so you’re not one of the 140,000 Americans diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year, and let Medicare help.

Get smart about kidney disease

Did you know that 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease? Major risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure and being 60 or older.

The best way to fight kidney disease is to find it before trouble starts. But, if you’ve already been diagnosed, ask your doctor if you’re eligible for Medicare’s kidney education sessions. Medicare’s kidney education can teach you how to take the best possible care of your kidneys and give you information you need to make informed decisions about your care. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers up to 6 kidney disease education sessions, if you have Stage IV chronic kidney disease. Session topics include:

  1. How to manage other diseases related to your kidney disease, like diabetes and high blood pressure
  2. How to prevent complications of kidney disease
  3. How your kidneys work
  4. What to eat and drink
  5. How your prescription drugs work
  6. What options you have if your kidneys get worse, like dialysis and kidney transplants

March is National Kidney Month. Learn more about kidney disease, and Medicare-covered kidney services to be sure you’re making educated choices about your kidney health.

Want a healthier lifestyle? Medicare can help.

“Health is wealth,” the old saying goes. However, the wealth of food choices in the U.S. doesn’t always contribute to the health of Americans. In fact, 69% of adults are considered overweight or obese. Finding little time to exercise or prepare balanced meals, and using cars instead of walking has contributed to this epidemic.

An unhealthy body weight can increase your risk of having serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

With all the information available on eating healthy and exercising, it’s sometimes hard to come up with a plan that will work for you. Not sure how to get started? Medicare can help.

Medicare covers obesity screening and counseling. These behavioral counseling sessions can help you lose weight if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more.

Making small changes and celebrating along the way can help you achieve goals and maintain your success. MyPlate MyWins offers tools and tips for finding a healthy eating style. And, the resources at Eat right® can help you increase your nutrition know-how, shop wiser at the grocery store, and prepare healthy meals for your family.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month by adding healthy eating and regular exercise to your lifestyle.