Know Your Numbers
One step in taking an active role in your health to help ensure a healthy life is by knowing specific numbers that play an important role for your heart:
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.
How’s your 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 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.
When you meet with your provider, make sure you understand what these numbers mean for your health and what – if any – changes you might need to incorporate into your lifestyle to get them in a healthy range.