Robert Kneece, MD
Midlands Internal Medicine
Learning these five heart health numbers can help you improve and maintain your heart health. Once you know your numbers, you can talk with your doctor about how to best manage and lower your risks for heart disease.
1. Blood pressure
Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease because it puts a strain on your heart and arteries.
2. Body mass index
- 120/80 most of the time, it is considered normal
- More than 120/80 but less than 140/90 most of the time, it is considered prehypertension
- 140/90 or higher, it is considered hypertension, or high blood pressure
Body mass index, or BMI, is a calculation based on your height and weight. BMI gives an idea of your potential health risks based on your weight. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can benefit your health in general and goes a long way to lowering your risk for heart disease.
3. Blood sugar level
- Less than 18.5 = underweight
- 18.5 to 24.9 = normal weight
- 25 to 29.9 = overweight
- 30 or greater = obese
Your blood sugar level, also called your blood glucose level, shows the amount of sugar in your blood. Over time, elevated blood sugar levels can damage your heart and blood vessels.
4. Total cholesterol level
- Less than 100 mg/dl = normal
- 100 to 125 mg/dl = prediabetes
- 126 mg/dl or higher = diabetes
Cholesterol is a waxy substance made by the liver that is an essential part of cell walls and nerves. When there is an excess of cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries, causing a process called atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease. Your arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart muscle is slowed down or blocked.
5. HDL cholesterol level
- 200 mg/dL or lower = normal
- 200 – 239 mg/dL = borderline high
- 240 mg/dL or higher = high
High-density lipoproteins or HDL is called “good” cholesterol because it helps remove bad cholesterol, preventing it from building up inside the arteries. You want a higher level of HDL in your total cholesterol. You can help increase your HDL with an active lifestyle and heart healthy diet.
- HDL of 60 or greater = high
- HDL of 41 – 59 = normal
- HDL of 40 or lower = low
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