Having your cholesterol tested regularly is a very important step to staying healthy. Unlike other medical conditions, there are no physical symptoms associated with high cholesterol, so you may not know that you have high cholesterol until a test reveals it, or worse, you suffer a heart attack or stroke.
The two types of cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol. The first is low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. This is known as the “bad” cholesterol. If you have too much of this cholesterol in your bloodstream, it can build up along your arterial walls and create blockages, leading to heart attack and stroke.
According to 2018 statistics from the American Heart Association, one in three Americans have LDL levels that are too high, and 18 percent have LDL levels that are too low. Falling into either side of this spectrum is dangerous for your heart health.
The other type of cholesterol is high-density lipoprotein, or HDL. This is the “good” cholesterol. However, having too little of this cholesterol in your bloodstream can also be dangerous because it protects you from heart disease and stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should aim for the following cholesterol levels:
- LDL level: less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL level: 40 mg/dL or higher
- Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL
A cholesterol test will tell you your exact numbers. This will allow you to formulate a health plan with your doctor if you need to make adjustments to your diet and activity levels to increase or decrease your cholesterol.
What Medicare covers for a cholesterol test
Medicare Part B will cover one cholesterol test every five years, which is in keeping with the American Heart Association’s recommendation of testing every four to six years. The test is covered, but you may have to pay toward your Part B deductible or a copay for the visit. If your doctor orders other tests during this appointment, you may have to pay for those as well.