What You Need to Know About Managing Your Cholesterol
Almost one in three people in the United States has high cholesterol, which puts you at risk for heart disease. There’s no way to know if you have cholesterol so make sure to ask your doctor to check yours. Certain drugs, called statins, can help lower your cholesterol and protect your heart. Taking a high-dose statin may help. People living with heart disease should also eat a heart-healthy diet and exercise often. To get the most protection, check with your doctor to make sure you are taking the highest recommended dose of statin.
Why You Need to Keep Tabs on Your Cholesterol
Your risk for cardiovascular disease and heart disease only grows as you age. According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of men and women between the ages of 60 and 79 have cardiovascular disease. Among this age group, 20 percent of men and 10 percent of women have coronary heart disease.
High cholesterol increases your risks for developing heart disease or having a stroke. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Even if you feel fine, it’s important to take your cholesterol medicine as directed. If you have high cholesterol, taking medicine can help lower it and may also prevent other health problems like a heart attack or stroke.
If you experience chest pain, or other symptoms of a heart attack, such as weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness or shoulder or abdominal pain, call 911 immediately.
How Much Does Cholesterol Medication Cost?
If your doctor prescribes statins to help control your cholesterol, you may have to pay a copay, depending on your Florida Blue Medicare prescription drug plan. You may also pay a copay for the doctor’s visit and for a blood test to check your cholesterol.
Make sure to ask your doctor if a generic drug is available. Generic drugs usually cost less than their brand-name counterparts. You can use generics with confidence. Although they may look different from their brand name versions, generics are safe and effective. A brand-name drug and its generic version must have the same active ingredient, dosage, safety, strength, usage directions, quality, performance and intended use. Generic drugs work in your body in the same way and in the same amount of time as brand-name drugs.
Depending on your income, you also may qualify for Extra Help from Medicare.
What to Know If You're Diagnosed With High Cholesterol
If your doctor prescribes statins for you, make sure to start with a 30-day prescription. If you tolerate the medication and it works for you, then you can get a 90-day prescription. If it doesn’t work for you, your doctor will prescribe another medication.
Your doctor may also advise you to make some lifestyle changes. Eating healthy, balanced meals and getting physical activity every day can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risks of heart disease, too. Also, if you smoke, consider quitting. Smoking also increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Your doctor can help you find a tobacco cessation program or come up with strategies to help you quit.
Here are some more tips to help.
Nutrition: There are two types of cholesterol, LDL (called “bad” cholesterol) and HDL (called “good” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol comes from eating saturated fat, commonly found in meat and other animal products. LDL can form plaque that clogs your arteries. HDL cholesterol, however, can help remove bad cholesterol. So you want your good cholesterol to be high and your bad cholesterol to be low. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and veggies, fiber-rich whole grains and nuts.
Fitness: Our Medicare Advantage plans include Silver Sneakers, which gives you access to gyms and wellness programs across Florida at no extra cost to you. There are more than 14,000 locations offering amenities such as fitness classes, treadmills, weights, pools and more.
You can also check out your local Florida Blue Center. Many of our Florida Blue Centers offer fitness and wellness classes at no extra cost to you.
Your local senior center may also have options to help. Visit this page to find a list of senior centers in Florida by county.
Tips to Help You Remember to Take Your Medicine
If you have a hard time remembering to take your medicine, you’re not alone! Here are five things you can try that might help you remember to take your meds on time:
- Pick a specific time of day to take your medicine or set an alarm to help remind you.
- Post a note in a place where you’re sure to see it —like on the fridge or your bathroom mirror.
- Order refills at least a week before your medicine runs out. If you use a local pharmacy, they may be able to automatically refill your prescription when you’re due for a refill. Or, ask if they can give you a reminder call when your refill is ready.
- Use a pill organizer to make sure you take your medications every day.
- Order a 90-day supply of your medications so you don’t have to worry about getting refills every month.
To have a 90-day supply of your medications mailed to you at no additional cost, call AllianceRx Walgreens Prime at 1-888-211-9028. They’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can also try our newest preferred pharmacy partner, PillPack. PillPack is a full-service online pharmacy that sorts your medications by the dose and delivers them to your door. They make sure you always have the right medication at the right time —at no extra cost to you. Get a 30-day supply of your medications at your normal copay/coinsurance amount.
Making an Appointment to Get Your Cholesterol Tested
If you haven’t had your Annual Wellness Visit yet this year, this is a great time to ask your doctor about any screenings you need or talk about ways to manage your cholesterol.
If you have had your visit, call your doctor’s office and make an appointment to discuss your concerns. We are here to help, too. Here’s what we can do for you:
- We can help you find a primary care doctor if you don’t have one. If you are a BlueMedicare HMO member, you must have a primary care doctor to coordinate your care. You don’t have to have one if you are in PPO plan. But having a primary care doctor can help you coordinate your care and look at the total picture of your health. It’s especially important if you see multiple specialists. Your primary care doctor will be the one person who has an eye on everything to do with your health.
- We can also help you schedule any appointments you need during a three-way call.
- If you have trouble leaving the house, we can send care to you. Florida Blue works with vendors who provide in-home assessments at no cost to you.
If you have a caregiver who helps you with your health, make sure to share this information with them.
If you are a caregiver for one of our Medicare members, give us a call. Let us help you help the person you care for.
We’re always focused on you. We hope these tools help empower you as you continue to provide care to a loved one.
Need help? Call us.
Please call Member Services at 1-800-926-6565. TTY users, please call 1-800-955-8770.
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Filed under: Medicare News