There are five key measures that can give you a pretty good picture of your overall health: blood pressure, cholesterol levels/triglycerides, blood sugar (glucose), waist circumference and Body Mass Index (BMI).
While we do inherit risk for disease from our families, most chronic illnesses are lifestyle-related. Knowing your numbers can be crucial when identifying risk for chronic, preventable conditions such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
- Blood pressure. The force of blood against the walls of the arteries, high blood pressure readings can mean that your heart is working harder than it should. Known as the “silent killer,” elevated blood pressure often is symptomless even as it damages your heart, kidneys and brain. Know Your Numbers: Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or below; 140/90 and above is considered high, with the area in between classified as pre-hypertension.
- Cholesterol & triglycerides. Cholesterol is a fatty substance our bodies need to function properly, but too much of it can do harm. Triglycerides are a form of fat in the blood stream produced by the liver, but also are found in your diet. Unsafe levels of cholesterol and triglycerides can result in coronary artery disease, heart attack and even stroke. Know Your Numbers: LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, should be below 130 mg/dL. The lower the better. HDL is “healthy” cholesterol and should be above 40. HDL removes cholesterol from the blood stream and helps lower your heart attack risk. Total cholesterol (TC) level should stay below 200. Triglyceride levels should range from 30 to 150 mg/DL.
- Blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is the amount of sugar stored in your blood and serves as your body’s main source of energy. Blood sugar levels indicate the risk of developing or the presence of diabetes. Left untreated, diabetes can result in heart disease, kidney disease, and other complications including nerve and eye damage. Know Your Numbers: A fasting blood sugar level should be below 100, with levels above 130 deemed “At Risk” for developing diabetes.
- Waist circumference. A high waist circumference is indicative of an elevated level of abdominal fat. Excess abdominal fat s associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer and heart disease. Know Your Numbers: Women with a waist circumference of more than 35 inches, and men with a waist circumference of above 40 inches are at increased disease risk.
- Body Mass Index (BMI). A person’s ideal body weight depends on variable factors such as gender, age, height and frame. BMI measures your weight in relation to your height. Too much extra weight can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Know Your Numbers: Though not considered a perfect measure, a BMI above 25 means you are overweight and a number over 30 signals obesity.
The good news is that it’s never been easier or more affordable to take charge of your health and know your numbers. Most commercial insurance plans provide coverage for preventive care without co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles, including annual physical exams, recommended immunizations, and age/risk appropriate screenings such as lab tests, mammograms and colonoscopies.
“At Eagles Landing Family Practice, we believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Collyn Steele, M.D., a board-certified physician at Eagles Landing Family Practice.” “That’s why we’re committed to bringing together board-certified family physicians, innovative facilities and advanced procedures to give our patients the top quality, patient-entered care they deserve in a timely and convenient way.”
Find a clinic near you to request an appointment with one of our providers.