Heart Health Numbers That You Need to Know

Heart Health Numbers That You Need to Know

Knowing your heart-related numbers can assist in improving your health.

How can you become more aware of your heart health?

Cardiovascular Disease is a general term for a variety of conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. According to the National Institute for Health, cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of death in the US for the past five years.

However, this trend can be changed. In fact, a variety of factors contribute to cardiovascular disease, and many of them are within our control.

One of the most important things we can do for our heart health is to become more aware of our own health status. Here are some straightforward guidelines for monitoring basic heart health numbers.

What is your heart rate (or pulse)?

Your heart rate is measured by the number of times your heart beats per minute. A variety of factors influence your pulse rate, and pulse rates vary throughout the day with your activity.

The most consistent way to measure your pulse is when you are sitting or lying down ― calm, relaxed, and not ill ― your heart rate should generally range between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

If your heart rate consistently falls outside of this range, or if it is unsteady, weak, or excessively strong, or if you are experiencing changes in your pulse rate or quality that are unusual or causing symptoms, you should consult with a medical professional as soon as possible.

What is your weight?

If you weigh more than you should, you’re not alone. People everywhere weigh more than they did a decade ago. This may be one of the reasons heart disease remains the world’s leading killer.

Over time, excessive weight can also contribute to the development of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Each of these conditions, coupled with being overweight, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Weight is one of the most controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. If you struggle with effective weight management, see your medical care provider to rule out medical causes for your weight gain. They can also provide you with information and options for effective weight management.

What is your blood pressure reading?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood.

Typically, a blood pressure reading of 120/80 or lower is considered normal. Your blood pressure is considered high if it reads over 130/80. If you get a blood pressure reading of 180/110 or higher more than once, seek medical treatment right away.

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is harmful because it makes the heart work harder and increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. You can have high blood pressure for years without experiencing any symptoms.

Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. Contact your healthcare provider if you have concerns regarding your blood pressure.

What is your cholesterol level?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs in the right amounts for good health. Cholesterol circulates in our body through our blood vessels. Many factors influence our cholesterol levels.

A total cholesterol level below 150 mg/dL is preferred for most adults. A total cholesterol level above 200 mg/dL is considered high. High cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia) can damage and block our arteries, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Routine blood tests are necessary to effectively manage your cholesterol level. If you haven’t had a cholesterol test recently, see your healthcare provider.

What is your blood sugar level?

Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main sugar found in your blood. It comes from the food you eat and is your body's main source of energy.

A fasting blood sugar level of 99 mg/dL or lower is normal, 100 to 125 mg/dL indicates you have prediabetes, and 126 mg/dL or higher indicates you have diabetes.

Consistently high blood sugar damages arteries and nearly triples a person’s heart attack and stroke risk. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are among the most harmful risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

See your medical provider if you have ever been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, or have a family history of diabetes.

What other factors affect your heart health?

A variety of other factors affect your overall health and your heart health. Fortunately, all are controllable.

The number of hours you sleep each night, your activity level each day, the amount of alcohol you consume and your overall stress level also influence your heart health. While it is sometimes a bit more challenging than just “deciding” to change one or all of these habits, it can be done.

What now?

You are the only person who can take care of your own heart – so give it some love and attention. Start by consulting your healthcare provider for a complete evaluation of your current health condition.

Know your heart numbers and take the first steps toward improving them. Your heart and those who love you will thank you for the rest of your life.

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