We all have a multitude of important numbers to remember in our daily life. Whether it’s a phone number, PIN number or our Social Security number, we can’t get away from digits we need to know.
There are other numbers that are even more important to remember because they can save lives. Three key numbers that can indicate cardiac risk are blood pressure, cholesterol levels and waist size.
Healthy numbers are a sign of a healthy heart, and they are attainable with just a few lifestyle changes. Eating healthy, exercising regularly and avoiding smoking can turn bad numbers into good ones.
Blood pressure: Key to heart health
Blood pressure consists of two numbers: systolic and diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure measures the pressure of blood against artery walls when the heart pumps blood out during a heartbeat, while diastolic pressure measures the same pressure between heartbeats, when the heart fills with blood. One in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure or hypertension, according to WebMD.
The numbers to know are:
* Normal blood pressure is between 120/80.
* Pre-hypertension is 120 to 139 (systolic) and/or 80 to 89 (diastolic).
* Hypertension is 140 or higher (systolic) or 90 or higher (diastolic).
Cholesterol: Predictor of heart attack
Cholesterol can be “good” or “bad.” When cholesterol is measured, three separate numbers are taken into account: HDL (good), LDL (bad) and triglycerides.
The numbers to aim for:
* Total cholesterol of 200 mg/dL or lower.
* HDL of 50 mg/dL or higher for a woman and 40 mg/dL for a man.
* LDL of 100 or lower, unless other risk factors exist, such as diabetes or pre-existing cardiovascular disease. In that case, the LDL should be closer to 70.
* Triglycerides of less than 150 mg/dL.
Waist size: The connection to heart disease
Waist size can predict heart disease risk even more than weight or BMI (Body Mass Index), according to Lori Mosca, M.D., director of the Columbia Center for Heart Disease Prevention in New York City.
“If your waist size is over 35 inches in women and over 40 in men, it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic problems, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol,” Mosca said. “If patients lose even one inch off their waist, we can see improvements in all the other heart health numbers.”
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Holiday Health Extravaganza
You can learn all these numbers and more at Western Baptist Hospital’s annual free Holiday Health Extravaganza from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 5, in the atrium of Doctors Office Building 2.
Free health screenings include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, height and weight, EKG rhythm strips, respiratory checks, massage therapy, Smoke Check and DermaScan (sun damage to skin).
Neurologist Jacqueline Carter, M.D., will present stroke prevention tips as well. Fasting for screenings is not necessary. Advance registration is not required; phone (270) 575-2918 for more information.
Chest Pain and Stroke Hotline
For help identifying signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, phone our award-winning Chest Pain and Stroke Hotline at 1-800-575-1911 to speak with a registered nurse at Western Baptist.