In our society numbers are very important, in fact, you can go through a single day without needing to know a number. We live our lives by the numbers: phone numbers, pin numbers, stock market numbers, etc. Yet, many of us don’t know the numbers that SHOULD be most important to us, which are our health numbers. The health numbers that I feel are most important for this post are heart health numbers.
Knowing your heart health numbers could literally save your life. There are three key numbers that everyone needs to know that could give you a lifesaving preview of your cardiac risk.
- Your blood pressure
- Your cholesterol levels
- Your waist size
Healthy numbers mean a healthy heart. If you have healthy numbers then GREAT! Keep up the good work with eating a balanced diet, regular exercise, and not smoking. If your numbers are not so good, fear not, even bad numbers can get turned around by implementing the above good habits.
Do you even know what these numbers are and what they mean? Let’s take a look:
1. Blood Pressure: Key to Heart Health
When (and if) your doctor tells you your blood pressure do you actually know what it means? If not, have you ever asked? You should.
Blood pressure consists of two numbers. Your systolic pressure measures the pressure of blood against artery walls when the heart pumps blood out during a heartbeat, while the diastolic pressure measures the same pressure between heartbeats, when the heart fills with blood.
- Normal blood pressure is below 120/80.
- Pre-hypertension is 120 to 139 (systolic) and/or 80 to 89 (diastolic).
- Hypertension — also known as high blood pressure — is 140 or higher (systolic) and 90 or higher (diastolic).
2. Cholesterol: Predictor of Heart Attack
Cholesterol isn’t ALL bad — it is a type of fat that is actually a nutrient that our body needs. Some people know that there is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol, there is a definite distinction that needs to be made between the two. So, when we measure cholesterol and blood fats, there is really three different numbers that we are talking about: HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. These combined give you your “lipid profile” score, however, the three individual scores are most important.
Here are the numbers you should strive for:
- Total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or lower.
- HDL (“good” or “healthy” cholesterol) of 50 mg/dL or higher for women and for men it should be 40 mg/dL or higher.
- Optimal LDL is 100 or lower, however, if you have other risk factors like pre-existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes then you want to shoot for closer to 70.
- Triglycerides of less than 150 mg/dL.
**Adults 20 and older should get a lipid profile done every five years.
3. Waist Size: The Connection to Heart Disease
This may be the easiest and most important number to remember. Your waist size predicts the risk of heart disease better than any other number. If your waist size is equal to or more than 35 inches in women and equal to or more than 40 inches in men then your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic problems, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol is greatly increased.
These three markers can be easily monitored by your physician (and YOU). This brief overview has given you an easy, inexpensive test that you can do at home to monitor your health. The others can easily be done at your physicians office.
Knowledge is power……Be empowered!