September is Cholesterol Education Month. Cholesterol plays an important role in your heart’s health but unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 73.5 million adults have high cholesterol.
Cholesterol is made by your liver. It is used to make hormones your body needs and to digest fatty foods. It is found in many foods you eat such as egg yolks, fatty meats, and cheese. If you take in more cholesterol than your body uses, the extra cholesterol builds up on the walls of your blood vessels. This makes it harder for blood to flow to your heart and other organs. This can lead to health problems such as coronary artery disease (CAD), which is the most common kind of heart disease in the United States.
Children, young adults and older Americans can have high cholesterol. Risk factors for high cholesterol include diabetes, lack of exercise, poor diet, obesity and genetics. Since there are no signs or symptoms of high cholesterol, for some, the first sign of CAD is a heart attack.
The only way to know if you are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease is to get your cholesterol checked through a simple blood test. TRICARE covers cholesterol testing every five years in adults age 20 and over, as recommended by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Talk to your primary care manager (PCM) for more information on preventive screenings and how to remain heart healthy. Prime beneficiaries may receive clinical preventive services from the PCM or any network provider without a referral or authorization at no cost.
If you use TRICARE Standard, cholesterol screenings are only covered when combined with an immunization, breast, cervical, colorectal or prostate cancer screenings.