One way to prevent heart disease is to keep an eye on the numbers that measure your heart health, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI and sugar levels.
McLeod Cardiologist Dr. Anne Everman explains some key benchmarks in the video above.
Here’s a summary of Dr. Everman’s comments:
These are the numbers you need to know: your blood pressure, sugar measurement, BMI, waist circumference and cholesterol.
Blood pressure recommendations have changed in the last few years. Earlier, if your blood pressure was 100 plus your age, you were doing fine. If you were 60, a blood pressure of 160 was tolerated. If your blood pressure is between 120 and 129, you have elevated blood pressure. It’s not recommended to start a medication but start lifestyle changes. Become more active. Lose some weight. Watch your salt intake. Watch your caffeine intake. If you get to “Stage 1” — blood pressure 130 to 139 over 80 to 89 — the recommendation is to start medications and begin the lifestyle changes. If your blood pressure is 140 over 90, the recommendation is for your doctor to start you on two blood pressure medicines and recommends lifestyle changes
These are the diabetes numbers to know. An A1C is what we call a glycosylated hemoglobin and that gives us an idea over a 3 month period what your sugar is doing. If your blood sugar is 105, but your A1C is 6.2, we know that that 105 is not representative of your blood sugar. Rather, you’re borderline diabetes.
Next is your BMI, your Body Mass Index. You can just plug your weight and height into your phone or onto the computer, because it uses your body surface area. (Learn your BMI)
There’s something called metabolic syndrome. If 1) your cholesterol is a little high, 2) your waist is more than 35 inches as a female or 40 inches as a male and 3) your fasting glucose is over a hundred, you have metabolic syndrome, you are at more risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
People tell me their total cholesterol level and that is helpful. It gives you an idea of what might be going on. However, your total cholesterol is made of the bad cholesterol, the good cholesterol and then a portion of something called the triglycerides.
Think of HDL as the “Happy” or “Healthy” cholesterol and then the LDL as the “Lousy” one. HDL cholesterol is kind of like a garbage truck. It basically collects all the cholesterol that the LDL is depositing, carrying it to the liver where it’s cleared from the system. With HDL, pretty much the higher, the better. Women don’t get a benefit from a high HDL until it’s greater than 55.
Work with your physician to get these numbers and, if necessary, improve them.
Find a Cardiologist near you.