Know Your Numbers

Knowing your ”numbers” in a few key health areas is a way to simplify the sometimes overwhelming amount of medical news and information about pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Here are some of the numbers to know:

Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can indicate risk for heart or kidney failure, aneurysms or hardening of the arteries. Ideal blood pressure is below 120/80.
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Waist Size
A waist size over 35 inches for women and over 40 inches for men greatly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic problems, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol. It’s a good idea to measure your waist monthly.
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Weight and Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body weight is one of the easiest numbers to calculate and an excellent indicator of overall health. Obesity causes many health problems such as cardiovascular disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gout, hypertension, high blood pressure and cancer. BMI is a highly reliable measure of body fat based on your height in relation to weight. A BMI over 25 signals overweight. A BMI over 30 indicates obesity.
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When your cholesterol and blood fats are measured, there are three different numbers evaluated: HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. The combination of the three is your “lipid profile” score, but the three individual scores are most important.

Here are the numbers to strive for:

  • Total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or lower.
  • HDL (“good” cholesterol) of 50 mg/dL or higher if you’re a woman, or 40 mg/dL or higher if you’re a man.
  • Optimal LDL is 100 or lower. If you have other major risk factors, like pre-existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes, your doctor may want your LDL closer to 70.
  • Triglycerides of less than 150 mg/dL.
  • Get a lipid profile every five years after the age of 20.

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Fasting Blood Sugar
Testing your fasting blood sugar (FBS) measures your risk for diabetes. A fasting blood sugar number above 100 is considered pre-diabetic, and you should discuss treatment measures with a physician.

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Exercise Frequency and Duration
Thirty minutes of physical activity every day is the minimum recommended for optimal health. If you are not physically active now, it’s never too late to start and it’s one of the best actions you can take for a healthier you! Even 10 minutes of brisk walking three times per week will start to give you healthy benefits.
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