Most Common Health Issues for Seniors

Most Common Health Issues for Seniors text overlaying image of a senior talking with her doctor As you age, you’ll start to face new health problems, and old ones become harder to treat. Thankfully, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seniors today can expect to live longer and healthier than ever before. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful with your health though. Taking steps like quitting smoking, losing weight, and eating healthier can help you avoid the most common health issues that seniors face.

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  • Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the most common health problems that seniors have to deal with. There are a range of conditions that fall into the heart disease category:


  • Blood vessel diseases
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Heart valve disease

Heart diseases are also called “silent killers” because they don’t always have obvious outward signs. You have a higher risk of heart disease if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. 

Heart Disease Symptoms

Heart disease symptoms vary depending on what types of disease it is:

Blood Vessel Disease Symptoms

Coronary artery disease is a common heart problem that affects the main blood vessels that bring blood to the heart muscle. Most of the time, coronary artery disease is caused by cholesterol buildup (plaque) in the heart’s vessels. This plaque build up can lead to the heart and other parts of your body getting less blood. Which can lead to heart attacks, angina, or stroke. Men and women can have different signs of coronary artery disease. For example, men more commonly experience chest pain while women are more likely to have nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms include:


  • Chest tightness
  • Chest pressure
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, or back
  • Numbness, pain, weakness in your legs or arms

Coronary artery disease might not be found until you have a heart attack or stroke. It’s important to keep an eye out for any of these symptoms and talk to your doctor about them. If you mention it early enough the disease can be found and treated early.

Arrhythmia Symptoms

Arrhythmia is when your heart is beating too fast or slow in an abnormal way. In general, heart arrhythmias can lead to problems like stroke, sudden death, and heart failure. Blood clots are more likely to happen in people with heart problems. If a clot breaks free, it can move from your heart to your brain and cause a stroke. Some signs of arrhythmia are:


  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Chest flutters
  • Lightheadedness
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slow heartbeat

Congenital Heart Defect Symptoms

Adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) is a group of disorders that affect the structure of your heart and are present at birth. “Congenital” means that the problem was there when the baby was born. It happened while the baby was still in the womb. These diseases can change how your heart pumps blood. They are also called birth defects of the heart.


Heart problems that are present at birth can be mild or very dangerous. Depending on the type of heart disease and how bad it is, signs may not show up until a person is an adult. Some people never feel anything at all. And some people were treated for these conditions when they were kids, only to have long-term effects as adults. Symptoms include:


  • Blue tints to fingernails, lips, and skin
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Heart murmur
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, or hands

Heart Muscle Disease Symptoms

Heart muscle disease, or cardiomyopathy, makes it harder for senior’s heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. Cardiomyopathy can cause the heart to stop working. There are 3 types of cardiomyopathy: dilated, hypertrophic, and restrictive. Depending on the type of cardiomyopathy and how bad it is, treatment might include medicines, device implants, surgery or in the worst case heart transplant. Symptoms include:


  • Breathlessness
  • Swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet
  • Bloating
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty lying down
  • Fatigue
  • Chest discomfort
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

Heart Valve Condition Symptoms

The aorta, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid valves are the four valves in the heart. They open and close to help the heart pump blood. Many things can hurt the valves in the heart. A heart valve can become narrowed (stenosis), leaky (regurgitation or weakness), or not close properly (prolapse).


Heart valve disease is another name for valve heart disease. Depending on which valve isn’t working right, the signs of heart valve disease are usually:


  • Chest pain
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen feet or ankles

Medicare And Heart Disease

Medicare Part B pays for heart disease blood tests every 5 years if your doctor orders them. You don’t necessarily have to have any signs of heart disease to get these tests done, you can have them just as a precaution if you’d like. Original Medicare pays 100% of the Medicare-approved amount for screening blood tests for heart disease. This means you don’t have to pay anything. Medicare Advantage plans have to cover heart disease screenings without deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance if you see a provider in their network.


During your heart disease check, your doctor may find something new or old that needs to be looked into or fixed. This extra care is diagnostic, which means that your doctor is treating you because of some signs or risk factors. During a preventive visit, Medicare may charge you for any medical care you get.


  • Obesity

As the number of seniors in the U.S grows, so does the obesity rate. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than one-third of seniors were considered obese. Research has shown that obesity puts older people at risk for a wide range of health problems. When a person is overweight, their organs are put under extra stress, which makes it hard for them to work properly. If you are obese as a senior, you are more likely to have health problems like:


  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Respiratory problems
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Mobility issues
  • Body pain
  • Gallbladder disease

Additionally, obesity has been shown to cause depression and a low quality of life. Depression in old age can put you at a higher risk for heart disease and other serious health complications.

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Medicare and Obesity

Recent changes to Medicare Part B are a big step toward getting doctors and patients alike to see obesity as a serious health problem. So, beneficiaries with a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more can get free obesity screenings and behavioral therapy through the Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity program. Their services must be given by a doctor, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, or clinical nurse specialist. Covered services include:


  • Initial BMI assessment
  • Nutritional evaluation
  • Ongoing weight loss and dietary counseling


Medicare only pays for visits that take place in a primary care setting as part of the Intensive Behavioral Therapy program. If your doctor tells you to see someone else, like a chef, you’ll have to pay for those services yourself. Some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans give you more benefits, which can help you lose weight. These plans may cover gym memberships and subscriptions to exercise programs like SilverSneakers, an app for older people that helps them stay fit. For a short time, some Medicare Advantage plans may also cover the delivery of healthy meals to your home.


Medicare will pay for bariatric surgery if your doctor says you need it because you are very overweight (BMI of 35 or higher). In most cases, you’ll need a certain BMI and at least one health problem connected to your weight, like diabetes or heart disease, in order to get coverage. You must also show that you have tried and failed to lose weight in the past by dieting or working out.

  • Diabetes

Diabetes affects about 33% of adults ages 65 and up. People in this age group are more likely than younger people with diabetes to get problems like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), kidney failure, and heart disease. There is new knowledge that can help us better understand and treat diabetes in older people. Special things should be taken into account to help people’s general health and quality of life. Many older people have more than one condition at the same time, such as cognitive impairment, heart disease, and others that affect how they learn about and take care of their diabetes. 

Diabetes Symptoms

Diabetes can cause you to feel tired, hungry, or thirsty more often, to lose weight without trying, to urinate a lot, or to have trouble seeing clearly. You could also get skin diseases or take a long time to recover from cuts and bruises. Some people with diabetes may not know they have it because the signs usually come on slowly and are easy to miss. Seniors sometimes brush off these signs as “getting old,” but they could be signs of a major problem. If you have any of these signs, you should talk to your doctor.

Medicare And Diabetes

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or have certain risk factors, you can rest easy knowing that Medicare Part B covers free diabetes screenings, prevention programs, supplies and nutrition therapy. So you won’t have to pay your deductible or the copayment for Part B, which is usually 20% of the cost of services paid by Medicare. Part B also pays for lessons on how to take care of your diabetes on your own, but you may have to pay the Part B deductible and copay.


You can get up to two diabetes checks a year for free if your doctor thinks you might get diabetes and you have any of the following risk factors:

  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol history
  • High blood sugar
  • Obesity

Or if you have 2 of more of these:

  • Are 65 or older
  • Had gestational diabetes during a pregnancy
  • BMI of 25-29.9
  • Parents or siblings with diabetes


One Medicare-covered diabetes prevention program can help you avoid type 2 diabetes, which often happens to people because of what they eat, how little they exercise, or how they live their lives. The program includes weekly group meetings for six months to help you change your diet, move more, and keep your weight in check, as well as six monthly follow-up meetings.


To be eligible, you must have certain amounts of glucose in your blood or plasma, a BMI of 25 or more, and no history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Part B needs you to go to a program put on by a Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program provider that has been approved.

Nutritional Therapy

If you have diabetes or kidney disease and your doctor tells you to go to nutrition therapy, you don’t have to worry. This service may include an initial nutrition and lifestyle exam, individual and group nutritional therapy, help with managing lifestyle factors that affect your diabetes, and follow-up visits. The nutrition therapy services must be given by a registered dietitian or another qualified nutrition worker.

Diabetes Supplies

Medicare covers a lot of products for seniors with diabetes, like blood sugar monitors, glucose test strips, glucose solutions, and lancets used to draw blood. It also pays for constant glucose monitors for seniors who take insulin or who have had trouble with low blood sugar in the past. Part B says that these items are covered as long-lasting medical tools. After you’ve paid your Part B payment for the year, you’ll pay 20% of Medicare-approved costs.


You must buy the equipment from a Medicare-enrolled supplier or order it through Medicare’s mail-order program using a Medicare national contract provider. A Part D prescription plan pays for things like alcohol swabs, bandages, inhaled insulin devices, needles, and syringes that are used to give insulin.

  • Dementia

Dementia isn’t just one illness. It’s actually a general term for a group of signs that people with different diseases, like Alzheimer’s, may have. Diseases that are called “dementia” are caused by changes in your brain that make it not work properly. The symptoms of dementia cause a decline in cognitive abilities that is serious enough to make it hard to live on your own or do daily tasks. Dementia also changes how you act, feel, and relate to others. 


60-80% of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Vascular dementia is the second most common cause. It is caused by tiny blood clots and blocked blood vessels in your brain. People with mixed dementia have brain changes that stem from more than one type of dementia at the same time. Most people call dementia “senility” which is wrong because that term comes from the belief that mental decline is a normal part of aging, which it’s not.

Medicare And Dementia

Medicare covers dementia care, providing much-needed assistance throughout the condition. Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, and other dementias require comprehensive care across multiple healthcare providers. However, Medicare addresses many of these needs, thankfully.


First, Medicare Part B covers cognitive tests. These are essential for senior dementia tracking. Doctors can adapt treatment plans based on cognitive changes in you or your loved one through regular cognitive exams. They can also identify the patient’s dementia stage. Medicare Part B provides cognitive and home safety tests. These examinations can detect household hazards that could injure or complicate dementia patients. The evaluations suggest ways to make living safer and dementia-friendly. Medicare Part B also covers care planning. The advancement of dementia requires care modifications. Medicare care planning helps address medical, social, and mental needs as dementia progresses.


Medicare Part A covers hospital stays for complications or severe dementia progression. Inpatient care at general or mental hospitals is included. Dementia care requires pharmaceutical management, which Medicare Part D provides. This prescription drug coverage covers doctor-prescribed dementia drugs. This coverage can greatly minimize senior drug expenditures, which can add up. While Medicare provides extensive coverage, it’s crucial to understand your plan’s deductibles, copayments, and other out-of-pocket charges. Remember that knowing what to expect might make dementia care easier.

How EZ Can Help

EZ can help you enroll in Medicare, buy a Medicare Supplement Plan, or compare options. Our representatives deal with top insurance companies. They can compare all local plans for free. We will assess your medical and financial needs and recommend a plan. Simply call one of our qualified agents at 877-670-3602 or enter your zip code in the bar below to begin.

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‘Tis the Season for Sweets! We Answer All of Your Questions about Sugar Alternatives

How many cookies or other sweets have you had so far this festive season? OK, don’t answer that – and no judgment! But you might be starting to feel a little, well, uncomfortable with your sugar consumption, right? But instead of swearing the sweet stuff off completely (that’s pretty tough!), you might want to turn to alternatives to refined cane sugar. Those might be the most natural of alternatives, like maple syrup or honey, or more artificial ways to get your sweet on, but are any of them actually better for you? Or could some of them even be worse? So, in the middle of this holiday cookie-fest, we want to get down to answering all of your pressing questions about the sweet stuff!

How Big Is Our Sugar Obsession?

Get this: the average American adult, teenager, and child consumes about 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day, or about 270 calories (which is around 13% of the calories we take in every day). That translates into around 57 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person! That far exceeds the recommended daily limit – in most cases, by around 3 times. 

All this should come as no surprise, considering that 3 out of 4 products on grocery store shelves contain added sugar. Sugar – in all of its forms – is nearly impossible to avoid, but our overconsumption of most kinds can lead to:heart with a rhythym

  • Heart disease – Eating 12–30 teaspoons of added sugar per day increases the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly one-third compared to those who eat less sugar. Eating more than 30 teaspoons increases the risk by nearly 3 times. Sugar contributes to more than 52,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease every year in the US.
  • Diabetes – Consuming the equivalent amount of sugar to that in just 1 -2 12-oz sodas per day can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26% and the risk of developing hypertension by 12%. More than 1 in 3 US adults has pre-diabetes, and 40% of all children are predicted to develop diabetes in their lifetime.
  • Dental decay – Regular sugary soda consumption is associated with nearly twice the risk of dental decay in children. Adults who drink 1-2 sugary drinks per day have 30% more dental disease compared with adults who consume no sugary drinks.

And those are just some of the risks associated with overconsumption of sugar (think: overweight or obesity and all of their related health complications). But would replacing certain forms of sweeteners with others make a difference? Maybe in some ways, but let’s take a closer look

Is Maple Syrup Better Than Refined Sugar?

We’re gonna give you the good news and the bad news about maple syrup, our favorite breakfast-time sweetener (and a great refined sugar alternative in baking). First here are the stats: one tablespoon of maple syrup contains 52 calories, 13.4 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, and 12.1 grams of sugar. How does that stack up to traditional refined sugar? Well, maple syrup has fewer calories: refined granulated sugar has 68 calories per teaspoon, and refined granulated sugar has more grams of sugar. But that being said, it has slightly fewer carbs than maple syrup.

OK, so far they’re not sounding all that different. But here’s one interesting thing: maple syrup’s fewer calories are not as empty as those of sugar. According to William Dixon, M.D., clinical assistant professor at Stanford School of Medicine and practicing emergency medicine physician, “Maple syrup has a nutritional advantage over sugar because it does not contain any additives, and the processing allows it to retain its nutrients, including manganese, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.”

Not only that, but maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than sugar, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar in the same way, and it contains those little powerhouses, antioxidants, which help our cells fight off stress, and thus, illness. It also has anti-inflammatory and prebiotic activity, so it helps support gut health.

The bottom line: if it’s calories and sugar you’re worried about, switching to maple syrup is not going to make a huge difference. But if you’re looking for more nutritional bang for your buck from the things you consume, including your sweeteners, maple syrup wins every time over refined sugar.

Is Honey Better Than Refined Sugar?

honey jar
While honey is better than refined sugar, it still has a lot of sugar!

So how about the sweet stuff given to us by the bees, honey? This lovely bit of golden goodness is actually even sweeter and carbier than maple syrup: a tablespoon of honey contains 63.8 calories, 17.3 grams of carbohydrates, and 17.2 grams of sugar, according to the USDA. 

But with that being said, “Honey’s advantages over sugar include a slightly lower glycemic index (i.e. it doesn’t affect your blood-sugar levels as much). It also contains more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, such as calcium, potassium, vitamin C, zinc, phenolic acids, and flavonoids,” according to Dr. Dixon. It also has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, and beneficial bacteria for gut health, so like maple syrup, it’s a healthier choice than refined sugar in certain ways. 

But even with all the advantages of maple syrup and honey, you still have to use them in moderation. At the end of the day, sugar is sugar, and both maple syrup and honey have a lot of it. They both still spike your blood sugar to some extent, and as Dr. Dixon says, “Maple syrup and honey may have a few advantages over table sugar, but they’re both considered to be added sugars. There’s strong evidence that higher sugar intake is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, some cancers, and obesity.” So go easy, but also remember that we don’t have to think about food as “bad” – all things can be enjoyed in a varied and balanced diet!

Are There Health Risks to Artificial Sweeteners?

So we’ve talked about the natural stuff, but what about those no/low-calorie artificial sweeteners that you often see out on tables and in packaged goods and diet sodas? While these might be tempting as a way to cut sugar out of your diet without losing the sweetness, you’re probably better off avoiding them and sticking with a natural sweetener, or better yet, cutting back on sweet stuff as much as possible.

Why? Well, there is mounting evidence that artificial sweeteners like aspartame (found in sweeteners like Equal, as well as in cereals, yogurt, candy, and diet soda) and sucralose (found in Splenda as well as baked goods, ice cream, canned fruit, flavored yogurt, and syrups), might actually be actively harmful. Just check out these recent findings:

  • Participants in a September 2022 study who consumed large amounts of aspartame had a higher risk of stroke than people who didn’t consume the sweetener.
  • In the same study, people who consumed high quantities of sucralose and acesulfame potassium, often used in “sugar-free” soda, had a higher risk of coronary heart disease.
  • An August study found that consuming non-nutritive sweetener (sugar substitutes that contain few calories or nutrients) could alter a person’s gut microbes and potentially elevate blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can increase one’s risk of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.
  • A June lab study found that artificial sweeteners cause gut bacteria to invade cells in the intestine wall, which could raise the risk of infection or organ failure.

These sweeteners don’t sound all so sweet now, right? So again, it’s probably best not to use these artificial sweeteners as an alternative to real sugar. You’re better off just cutting back, or using natural sweeteners sparingly.

What Do We Know about “No-Calorie” Natural Sweeteners?

The truth is, the artificial sweeteners we talked about above are a little, well, old-fashioned. Nowadays, more people are switching to “natural” calorie-free sugar alternatives like stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, and xylitol. In fact, last August, research firm Nielsen reported that stevia sales had grown 11.9% year over year, while artificial sweetener sales were down an average of 6.6%. And Nielsen data from April 2018 showed that the use of monk fruit was up 20% in foods such as cereal and nutrition bars, and more than 150% in vitamins and lactose-free milk.

stevia plant
Stevia plant

But are they safe? Well, both monk fruit and stevia are considered safe by the FDA, and there don’t seem to be any health risks associated with them. But with that being said, there is little data on monk fruit as of yet. Here are a few things we do know:

  • Animal studies suggest stevia extracts are nontoxic. There also haven’t been any negative reactions reported in humans to date.
  • A study of the effect of stevia extracts on fecal bacteria showed the bacteria balance wasn’t significantly affected.
  • Research also shows stevia doesn’t raise blood sugar and doesn’t cause cavities the way sugars do. It may also help reduce insulin levels compared with artificial sweeteners: a study of 19 lean and 12 obese adults found that having stevia before a meal significantly lowered insulin levels after the meal compared with having aspartame, a sugar-free artificial sweetener.
  • There is a possibility that low-calorie sweeteners cause people to feel hungrier – and thus overeat – when compared with sugar, but the studies so far are conflicting.
  • Monk fruit sweetener contains little, if any, carbohydrates and zero sugar, so it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels.
  • Sugar alcohols, like erythritol, have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels and don’t seem to affect gut bacteria. Erythritol is considered to be safe based on animal studies of toxicity, cancer risk, and reproductive health.
  • Overdoing it on sugar alcohols can cause bloating and other digestive issues, particularly in people with irritable bowel syndrome. 

The bottom line with these sweeteners is that they are probably safe, but you still have to be careful. First of all, they are still processed to be able to resemble something like sugar, and they often contain other ingredients – so “natural” is a subjective term! Second of all, if you’re replacing some of the sugar with them so you can eat more donuts later, you’re kind of missing the point of using them to cut down on your sugar intake. 

So there you go: hopefully we’ve answered your most pressing questions about at least some of the dizzying array of sweet stuff that’s surrounding us. Now, don’t let us scare you away from your seasonal sweets – we still want you to enjoy yourselves and indulge just a little! But we also want you to have all the info so you can make the best choices for you…once the new year arrives! Happy holidays, and tell us the sweet treats you simply can’t resist! Have you found a way to make them healthier or do you go all out?

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Women’s Health Has Been Improving Over The Years, Continue The Trend With EZ

Did you know that in the past 30 years, the average woman’s life expectancy has increased from 79 to 81? Now, that might seem like a small change, but it is a big step in the right direction. Women’s health has been improving thanks to all of the significant advancements in the past few decades, and the focus on improving women’s health doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. There is no better time than now to continue this trend by getting checked, and what better way to do this than with the help of EZ, and a great insurance plan? 

Some Interesting Facts

cigarettes placed next to each other going downward on s graph
The percentage of American adult women who smoke has decreased from 28% to 16% in the past 30 years.

Smoking & Lung Cancer Rates Are Down

In 1963, a shocking 34% of American women were smokers. It was not until 1964, when the first federal report outlined all of the harmful effects of smoking, that there was a push to change that. So now, with all of the knowledge available to women, not to mention all of the smoking cessation programs that are covered by health insurance, the percentage of women who smoke – and lung cancer rates – have dramatically decreased. The percentage of American adult women who smoke has decreased from 28% to 16% in the past 30 years.

Heart Disease Is Becoming Less of a Threat

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, and the scary thing is that women can experience a heart attack without the chest pressure we associate with cardiac events, which can lead to dangerous delays in treatment. Fortunately, the signs of a cardiac event in women are now more well-known, so women have the knowledge they need to take charge of their health. Thanks to many federally-funded programs that have made women more aware of the risk factors for heart disease, the number of women who die from heart disease has decreased from 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 women.

Breast Cancer Deaths Are Declining

Nowadays, over 90% of breast cancers found in the early stages can be successfully treated, and fortunately, breast cancer is now also being detected earlier. This means that the average death rate for the disease has gone down nearly 2% per year in the past 10 years. This good news might be due to the fact that women are taking more initiative to examine themselves and get checked immediately when they feel a lump, or feel that something isn’t right, and are also more likely to get annual screenings. In 1990, only half of all American women over 50 years old had had a mammogram within the past 2 years. Now, 73% of women over 50 years old have had a mammogram in the past 2 years. This has led to an estimated 10% drop in breast cancer deaths.

How You Can Continue This Trend

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EZ will help you find an affordable plan with great coverage.

Women’s health has progressed more than anyone could imagine, and although all of the above is great news, there is still so much more work to do. The best way to continue the upward trend of women’s health is to stay on top of your own health by getting any screenings that you need, or participating in programs that will improve your health. An EZ agent can help you with this: we will devote our time and resources to making sure you have the best health insurance possible – insurance that is affordable and that still provides the coverage you need. Don’t let lack of insurance, or a subpar plan, stop you from getting the care you need!

EZ offers a wide range of health insurance plans from top-rated insurance companies in every state. And because we work with so many companies and can offer all of the plans available in your area, we can find you a plan that saves you a lot of money – even hundreds of dollars – even if you don’t qualify for a subsidy. There is no obligation, or hassle, just free quotes on all available plans in your area. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a local agent, call 888-350-1890.

Cardiac Rehabilitation & Medicare

According to the CDC, 21.7% of adults aged 65 years and older have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease (CHD); not only that, but a full 12% of those 60-69 have experienced heart failure, and that number rises to almost 20% when looking at people over 80. To help this large number of seniors with serious heart issues, Medicare covers cardiac rehabilitation programs to aid in recovery after heart surgery, heart failure, or a heart attack. These programs are meant to improve quality of life for those with heart disease, and reduce risk factors to prevent heart problems from worsening, but it seems that far too few Medicare beneficiaries are taking part in them. If you are dealing with heart issues, you should know about these programs and what criteria you need to meet in order for Medicare to cover your treatment, so you can make the most of your recovery.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Explained

pink kettle bells with sneakers in the background
The cardiac rehabilitation program will help seniors exercise and work towards a healthier lifestyle.

There are 2 types of cardiac rehab programs typically prescribed to patients who have suffered a heart attack, been diagnosed with a heart condition, or had surgery on their heart: general cardiac rehab and intensive cardiac rehab. Each program is offered at the hospital by healthcare providers or a special rehab team, who will customize a plan to help you make better lifestyle choices, manage your heart condition, and prevent any new issues. 

These programs usually include:

  • Exercise – Because exercise helps maintain a healthy heart, a large portion of these programs is dedicated to moving your body. Over time, the exercises given to you by your team will grow in intensity to challenge you and improve your health. 
  • Education on healthier lifestyle choices – Your team will talk to you about following a heart healthy diet, how to reduce stress, and more. 
  • Counseling – Your rehabilitation program can include counseling  to help you deal with issues that have come up during your illness, as well as help you change your behaviors for the better. 

These programs are extremely beneficial, and can help you improve the quality of your life, as well as lengthen your life. Unfortunately, though, many Medicare beneficiaries do not seek help or utilize any of these cardiac rehabilitation programs: one study found that only around 10% of patients 85 and older participated, compared to around 32% of those 65 to 74. They also found that participation among women was lower than among men, which is disappointing considering that women are more likely than men to have heart disease, and that it is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S. 

“Cardiac rehabilitation has strong evidence demonstrating its lifesaving and life-enhancing benefits, and Medicare Part B provides coverage for the program,” lead study author Matthew D. Ritchey, a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, said in a news release. “The low participation and completion rates observed translate to upwards of 7 million missed opportunities in this study.”

Medicare Coverage For Cardiac Rehabilitation

black and white picture of a man holding his chest
If you had a heart attack in the past 12 months, or experience chest pain, then Medicare will cover rehabilitation. 

As a Medicare beneficiary, you have access to cardiac rehab coverage through Medicare, as long as you meet certain requirements. Medicare Part B covers these programs if you have had at least one of the following conditions:

  • A heart attack in the last 12 months
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Chest pain
  • A heart valve repair or replacement
  • A coronary angioplasty (a procedure to open a blocked artery)
  • A coronary stent (a procedure to keep an artery open)
  • A heart or heart-lung transplant
  • Stable chronic heart failure

For general cardiac rehab, Medicare will cover up to two one-hour sessions per day and a total of 36 sessions; if deemed medically necessary, Medicare might cover an additional 36 sessions. For intensive cardiac rehab, patients are eligible to receive coverage for up to six one-hour sessions per day and a total of 72 sessions; however, these sessions must be completed over an 18-week period.

Medicare will pay for 80% of the Medicare-approved amount of this program, which leaves you responsible for the remaining 20%, as well as for meeting your annual deductible. 

Saving Money

Medicare requires that you pay a 20% coinsurance for each qualified medical expense you incur, but there is a way that you can avoid these expenses and save money: Medicare Supplement Plans will pay for the coinsurance and then some, depending on the plan. There are 10 different plans to choose from, so there is sure to be one that meets your medical needs, as well as fits your budget.  We know that being on a fixed income means that saving money is a must, and a Medicare Supplement Plan is a great way to help you save money throughout the year.

Not sure where to begin? can help you save the most money possible by comparing all available Medicare Supplement Plans in your area – and to help you save even more money, we offer our services for free! Our highly trained agents will assess your needs, compare plans, and find the one that is best for you. To get free quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a local agent, call 888-753-7207.

Facts About Men’s Health That Might Surprise You

Ok, guys, it’s time we had a talk. Being the “strong, silent type” might be ok in some scenarios, but it’s just not working out when it comes to your health. For some reason, whether it’s because of cultural expectations of men or because men feel like they just don’t have the time, guys aren’t talking about or taking care of their well being as much as they should. In fact, men are 24% less likely than are women to have visited a doctor in the past year, according to the U.S. Department Of Health & Human Services, and studies show that 40% of men only go to the doctor when they think they have a serious medical issue. That means more than half of men aren’t getting regular checkups! Not only that, but more than 50% say their health is not something they talk about. So, since June is Men’s Health Month, we’re going to do the talking for you, and highlight the importance of looking after yourself with these eye-opening facts about men’s health.

Heart Disease Is the Number 1 Killer of Both Men and Women But…

drawing of a human heart with a red circle around it
Fact: Heart disease causes 1 out of every 4 deaths in men.

Yes, we’re now much more open about the fact that heart disease kills just as many women as it does men; in fact, it’s the leading cause of death for both sexes. But it’s still important to know that heart disease causes 1 out of every 4 deaths in men, as well as to know that men often develop heart disease 10-15 years earlier than do women, and are more likely to die of it at a younger age. Other conditions that lead to heart disease like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are also more common among men. The average age for men for a first heart attack is just 66, so start thinking about your heart health now! That includes eating right and getting enough exercise: after all, if you’re a man with a waist measurement over 37 inches, your risk of heart disease (and diabetes) increases dramatically!

Men Need Their Beauty Sleep, Too

Getting enough sleep is not really about maintaining your looks – it has more to do with the above statistics about men’s tendency to deadly heart conditions. It turns out that men who sleep 7-8 hours a night are around 60% less less likely to have a fatal heart attack than those who sleep 5 hours or less, so turn off your phone and hit the hay!

Not Talking About Men’s Mental Health Can Be Deadly

Again, thinking you have to be the “strong, silent type” isn’t good for anyone’s health – especially not your mental health. We might brush it off as just a stereotype that men have a difficult time discussing their feelings, but this is actually a phenomenon that has been well documented by psychologists. So, unfortunately it seems that men are suffering in silence: the American Psychological Association reports that 30.6% of men (that we know of) have suffered from depression in their lifetime. And not only are men less likely to be treated for mental health issues, they are 3 times more likely that women to die by suicide. It’s time to end the stigma and speak up. black silhouette of a head with white puzzle pieces in it and the black puzzle pieces next to the silhouetteIn addition to talking about mental health, there’s something else men can do to help keep themselves fit in both mind and body: studies show that inactive men are 60% more likely to suffer from depression, so get in your daily dose of exercise. That’s not to say you shouldn’t seek help for any symptoms of depression or other mental health issues, but getting active is always a good idea!

Men Die Younger, But It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way!

Most people have heard the stats by now: on average, men die about 5 years younger than women (cue all the bad jokes). But you know what? It doesn’t have to be that way: men actually have much more of a say in their health than they might think. Studies show that only 30% of a man’s overall health is determined by his genetics, and 70% is controllable through lifestyle. 

For example, in addition to reducing your waist size and getting enough sleep, as mentioned above, choosing to climb 50 stairs or walk 5 city blocks a day could lower your risk of heart attack by 25%. Or, think about your alcohol intake: drinking more than 10 drinks a week almost doubles your risk of type 2 diabetes. We’ll say it again, because we can’t emphasize it enough: eating right and getting enough exercise can make all the difference in your health! And, if you’re not sure where to start, follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines for exercise (75-150 minutes/week of vigorous activity or 150-300 minutes of moderate activity) and know that getting your 5-7 servings of fruit and veggies is as simple as 1 apple, half an avocado, 1 stalk of celery, half a grapefruit, 5 pieces of broccoli.

The Risk of Prostate Cancer is Real

blue ribbon for prostate cancer
Fact: 1 in 8 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death among men, and, just as there are some cancers specific to women, there are cancers specific to men – and one is extremely common. 230,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, making it the most common cancer among men; in fact, 1 in 8 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, which is the same risk that women run for breast cancer. On the bright side, this type of cancer tends to grow slowly, so you have a good chance of catching it early. But that doesn’t mean you should wait to talk to your doctor about testing. Do it! Now!

Erectile Dysfunction Is More Common, and Could Be More Problematic, Than You Might Think

If you think erectile dysfunction (ED) only happens to older men, think again. Approximately 30 million men in the U.S. experience ED, and 52% of men between the ages of 40 and 70 suffer from some form of ED. The condition can be caused by multiple factors, including stress, drug or alcohol use, psychological factors, or smoking, but it can also be a sign of underlying health issues. According to Dr. Judson Brandeis, “Heart disease, high blood pressure and high blood sugar can all cause ED. Finding and treating the cause(s) of your ED can help your overall health and wellbeing.”

When it comes down to it, not speaking out about men’s health isn’t good for anyone, especially since there are so many ways that men can improve their quality of life, both physically and mentally. Some studies show that the average man lives 9 years of their life in poor health, simply because of lifestyle choices and easily preventable issues. But now that you know the real facts about men’s health, you can do something about it! So get out there, spread the word, and get healthy this month, and every month!


3 Diseases That Affect Older Women More Than Men

Although research shows that women live longer than men, that does not necessarily mean they are healthier. Both women and men are likely to develop chronic conditions as they age, and women tend to die of some of the same conditions as men, including heart disease. That being said, there are certain diseases and conditions that are more likely to affect women than men. 

1. Arthritis

x-ray picture of a knee bone/joiny
More than half of seniors have arthritis, and women experience the worst of it. 

As we age, our joints begin to degrade, causing our bones to rub against each other. This can cause inflammation in our joints, and lead to arthritis, particularly in the knees, elbows, ankles and fingers. More than half of all seniors over the age of 65 have arthritis, but this condition tends to affect women more than men. Not only are women more likely to get arthritis, but they are more likely to experience worse pain in their joints than men are, and are more vulnerable to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is a more debilitating form of arthritis

There are multiple reasons why more women are affected by arthritis than men:

  • Joint stability– Because women’s bodies are built for childbirth, their tendons have the ability to move around more making them more elastic and more likely to sustain injuries.
  • Obesity– Studies show that obesity is more common in women than men, and extra weight puts a lot of strain on the joints.
  • Hormones– As estrogen levels decrease, the hormones that cushion the cartilage deteriorate as well, causing inflammation.

If you’re one of the many older women suffering from arthritis, it is best to stay as active as possible, so that you do not lose your range of motion, and can lose weight if you need to. You should also consider working out with weights to build muscle around your joints. 

2. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and more susceptible to breakage, is the most common form of arthritis. Of the 10 million Americans who are diagnosed with osteoporosis, 80% of them are women. This is because women’s bones tend to be smaller and less dense than men’s bones, and because hormonal changes (as mentioned above) in older women’s bodies lead to bone loss.

In order to slow down osteoporosis and bone loss, you should avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, get plenty of exercise (especially weighted workouts), and eat a healthy diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D.

3. Heart Disease

It often surprises people to find out that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the U.S. Approximately 70% of women aged 60-79 are diagnosed with heart disease, and 87% of women over 80 have some form of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease can lead to strokes, which is the third leading cause of death in American women. The CDC estimates that 1 in 5 American women will have a stroke, and more than half will die from it. 

graph of heart disease with stats in each bubble.

It is possible to prevent heart disease, or at least treat it even after experiencing a heart attack or stroke. To prevent or control heart disease, it is important to keep an eye on your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels. Stick to a healthy diet focused on vegetables and fruits, and avoid consuming too much sodium and unhealthy fat. Be sure to exercise, as well as reduce (or quit) smoking and drinking, because both increase blood pressure. 

It is no secret that women live longer than men do, but unfortunately a longer life can also mean more health problems. Women are also genetically more prone to suffer from certain health conditions like arthritis, due to hormonal changes and the elasticity of their joints. Because there are so many health conditions that can affect women, it is important to make sure that you are properly insured. Medicare Part A covers hospital stays, and Part B covers 80% of other medical expenses – the other 20% will come out of your pocket. If you have a degenerative disease such as arthritis or heart disease, it is important to seek consistent treatment; this can become costly, but a Medicare Supplement Plan will pay for these costs. 

There are a variety of Medicare Supplement Plans that provide different levels of coverage at different price points. If you are interested in getting more information about Medicare Supplement Plans so that you can save money on your medical bills, EZ.Insure can help. We will connect you with an agent who will assess your needs, compare plans in minutes, and find ways to help save you hundreds of dollars. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to one of our licensed agents, call 888-753-7207.