Being proactive is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your heart remains healthy throughout your life. Once heart conditions develop, your risk of a heart attack or stroke increases significantly. Thankfully, you can get a relatively clear picture of the state of your heart by regularly monitoring five simple numbers.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Although body mass index alone does not tell the entire tale of your health, it does indicate if you are obese or at risk for becoming obese. Obesity is one of the leading causes of heart abnormalities and diabetes, so it’s important to have an understanding of where you stand on the scale, and if any action needs to be taken. A body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight, and anything over 30 falls into the obesity category.
When it comes to cholesterol, there are two figures that need to be taken into account. Your LDL (low-density lipoproteins, or the “bad” cholesterol) should ideally be below 100, and your HDL (high-density lipoproteins, or the “good” cholesterol) needs to be above 40. The two numbers taken together should optimally add up to less than 200. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fat is one of the simplest ways to control your cholesterol level.
Belly fat is another indicator of an increased risk for heart disease. When measured at the point of the belly button, men should have an ideal waist measurement less than 40 inches, while women should aim for less than 35 inches. Once again, a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise are the best ways to reduce your waist size.
Patients with diabetes may be familiar with checking their blood sugar, but everyone should have their level checked intermittently. Blood sugar levels are ideally taken after fasting for eight hours, and the reading should be under 100 for optimal heart health.
High blood pressure is another common warning sign for abnormal heart conditions. The reading takes into account the systolic (top number) blood pressure and the diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure. You’re looking for a systolic reading of between 90 and 120, and a diastolic reading of 60 to 80. A reading of 120 over 80, for example, indicates that your blood pressure is in a healthy range. Limiting stress and reducing your sodium intake are common ways to reduce high blood pressure.
If you have questions about any of these numbers, or if you just want to ensure you’re on the right track with your heart health, schedule a consultation with Dr. Dilip Mathew today. Dr. Mathew is a Board Certified specialist in cardiac electrophysiology, and he is proud to help Sarasota residents jumpstart their heart health one patient at a time.