Know Your Numbers, Know Your Heart

February 14, 2020

One step in taking an active role in your heart health is knowing the specific numbers that play an important role for your heart. Here are the key factors to know about.

Blood pressure. Is your blood pressure at normal levels? One in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. Normal range for blood pressure should be below 120/80. If your numbers are at 120-129/less than 80, your blood pressure would be considered “elevated.” Hypertension, or high blood pressure, occurs at levels of 130-139/80-89.

Cholesterol. Your healthcare provider measures three different facets of your cholesterol: HDL (the “good” kind), LDL (the “bad” kind) and triglycerides (fat used to store excess energy from the foods you eat). Your goal should be to have the following healthy levels:

  •  Total cholesterol: less than 200
  • HDL (good): 50 or higher for women, 40 or higher for men
  • LDL (bad): Less than 100
  • Triglycerides: Less than 150

Waist Size. Waist size is an important predictor of heart health complications. At higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes are women with waist sizes greater than 35 inches and men with waists greater than 40 inches, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Blood sugar. Like it sounds, blood sugar is the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood. Healthy blood sugar levels are lower than 100 mg/dl. For your provider to measure your blood sugar, you may need to fast prior to your appointment. Scheduling your appointment first thing in the morning makes your fasting more manageable.

BMI. Your body mass index (BMI) gives you a sense of whether you are at a healthy weight, given your age, gender, height and frame. A BMI between 18.6 and 24.9 is generally considered healthy.

Another risk factor: Aside from these numbers, whether or not you smoke is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death! Smoking cessation is one of the best things you can do for your health. If you're a smoker and you've tried to quit before, you know it is not easy.  We can help.

Want the clearest picture of your heart health before anything else happens? Schedule a safe, painless cardiac calcium scoring test that can detect potential heart problems in advance. Do it in February and you'll also receive a free box of dark chocolates! Learn more here.