Making sure you’re on the right track to maintaining a healthy heart is as simple as knowing five little numbers: blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index, cholesterol and waist size. By regularly monitoring these five things, you can quickly see when something is abnormal so you can follow up with your doctor.
High blood pressure can lead to a host of health problems—most notably cardiovascular disease. Your systolic pressure (top number) should be less than 120-130 mm Hg, and your diastolic pressure (bottom number) should be about 80-90 mm Hg. By getting your blood pressure taken every few months, you’ll have a better idea of your baseline blood pressure in case you have a spike.
Having your blood sugar measured after an 8-hour fasting period is a great indicator of your risk for diabetes. If you already have diabetes, measuring your blood sugar periodically will help you know how well your treatment plan is working. A diabetic A1c test evaluates blood sugar control for individuals who have, or are at risk for, diabetes. The A1c test shows the average glucose in the blood during the last two to three months. The Estimated Average Glucose (EAG) is provided with the A1c test and screens for diabetes and pre-diabetes. Your A1c results should be less than 6 percent, and your fasting glucose should be less than 100. You can order a $15 diabetic profile screening at Riverview Health Outpatient Laboratory.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
This is an easy number you can find out by yourself at home. To determine your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared. Then multiply by 703.
Weight = 175 pounds
Height = 72 inches
(175/722) x 703 = 23.73
By knowing if your BMI falls in the overweight range (25-29.9) or obese range (30+), you can determine if you’re at-risk for related diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes. A normal range is considered to be between 18.6-24.9, while an underweight range is considered to be anything less than 18.5.
Getting your cholesterol checked is important in determining your risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Share your results with your healthcare provider so he or she can help get your cholesterol back on track if it’s high, or keep an eye on it if it’s higher than normal. A total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL is considered optimal. Riverview Health Outpatient Laboratory offers a heart health profile, which measures lipids, high-sensitivity CRP and homocysteine. This group of tests is used to assess the risk of coronary heart disease. The lipid test includes total cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein cholesterol), often called “good cholesterol,” LDL (low density lipoprotein cholesterol), often called “bad cholesterol,” and triglycerides. Order a $55 Heart Health Profile.
This may be a number you’re all too aware of if you’ve tried to squeeze into an old pair of jeans. A large waist circumference or excess abdominal fat is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. For females, your waist should measure less than 35 inches, and for males, less than 40 inches.
Remember: Always talk to your physician about your findings so he or she can help you understand how your numbers may affect your overall health.