Your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass index (BMI) and fasting blood glucose offer an accurate glimpse of overall heart health. By comparing your numbers with healthy target ranges, you can evaluate your heart disease risk and take steps toward a healthier lifestyle.
BMI - Calculated using your height and weight, BMI helps you determine how much body fat you carry. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 indicates a healthy weight. A person is considered overweight if his or her BMI is 25 or higher and obese if BMI is 30 or higher.
Cholesterol - Cholesterol comes in two forms: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). While HDL helps keep your heart healthy, LDL can contribute to blockages. Adults age 20 and older should have a cholesterol screening at least every five years. Total cholesterol levels should be lower than 200 mg/dL, triglycerides lower than 150 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol levels lower than 100 mg/dL, and HDL cholesterol levels higher than 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women, according to the American Heart Association.
Blood Pressure - When blood pressure is higher than it should be, your heart has to work harder to pump blood, which can damage your arteries. Normal, healthy blood pressure is defined as a reading of 120/80. A blood pressure reading of 140/90 indicates hypertension, or high blood pressure.
Fasting Blood Glucose - Healthy adults ages 45 and older should have a fasting blood glucose screening at least every three years. A healthy fasting blood glucose level falls between 70 and 100 mg/dL.
Tips to Overcome Weight-Loss Challenges
Weight influences nearly every aspect of cardiovascular health. Weight loss can help reduce your blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes risk, but staying motivated is often a challenge. If you’ve hit a roadblock on your journey to a healthy weight, consider these tips.
Reducing risk of heart attack
Imagine enjoying lunch with three girlfriends. As you talk and laugh, the thought that heart disease will claim the life of one person at the table is the farthest thing from your mind, but that’s what current data indicates: One in four American women will die of heart disease, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Most heart disease risk factors come down to one thing — how you choose to live. Use these tips to stop the stresses and obligations of life from driving your health and start using healthier choices to fuel your life.
Family history is a heart disease risk factor you can’t control, but ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to prevention. If you know your grandmother had a stroke at age 67 and your mother has high blood pressure, you can get a step ahead by discussing your heart disease risk with your doctor and crafting a strategy to reduce it.
Don’t wait until the next holiday gathering. The next time you call your parents, siblings or grandparents, ask about any cardiac events or vascular conditions they’ve had and how old they were when the problems occurred.
Taking charge of your heart health begins with understanding your heart disease risk. To learn your numbers, speak with your doctor.