know your numbers

Woman with statsAre you at risk for heart disease and other chronic diseases? Thankfully there is a system of “numbers” we can use to tell us how we compare to the healthy state. By knowing your numbers, you can take action to make positive changes that will help prevent heart disease and stroke. Some of the numbers that are important for you to know are:

Blood Pressure- Is one of the strongest markers for heart disease risk. Normal blood pressure is 120 / 80 or below.

The top number (systolic), the higher of the two numbers, measures pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts). The bottom number (diastolic), the lower of the two numbers, measures pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).
High blood pressure can damage the heart, arteries, brain, kidneys, eyes and other parts of the body.

Cholesterol Levels – Too much bad cholesterol can lead to a hardening of your arteries. When it comes to cholesterol, there are two important numbers you should know. LDL, the bad cholesterol, should be below 130 mg/dL, lower is better. HDL, good cholesterol, should be above 40 mg/dL. Your total cholesterol (TC) level should be below 200 mg/dL.

Blood Sugar – A blood sugar test is commonly used to diagnose the presence of diabetes. A fasting blood sugar, taken when you haven’t eaten for 12 hours, should be below 100 mg/dL.

Body Mass Index (BMI) – This is calculated from two other numbers that you probably know – your weight and height. Your BMI will be one way to gauge if you are classified as being overweight. However, it is not a perfect measure.

Waist circumference — A high waist circumference indicates a greater level of abdominal fat which is associated with an increased risk for heart disease. A waist circumference of more than 35 inches for men and more than 40 inches for women can mean increased disease risk.

Take control of your health by learning these numbers; they’ll help with everything from losing weight to protecting your heart.