Want to know how to keep your heart healthy? Know your numbers! Next time you visit your health care provider, ask these three questions to get an idea of your heart health:
- What is my blood pressure? Blood pressure is the force of blood flow inside your blood vessels. Your doctor records your blood pressure as two numbers, such as 120/80, which you may hear them say as “120 over 80.”
The first number is the pressure as your heart beats and pushes blood through the blood vessels. This is called the “systolic” pressure. The second number is the pressure when the vessels relax between heartbeats. It’s called the “diastolic” pressure.
Your heart has to work harder when blood pressure is high, and your risk for heart disease and diabetes goes up. High blood pressure raises your risk for heart attack, stroke, eye problems and kidney disease. Healthy blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg.
- What is my cholesterol level? Your cholesterol numbers tell you about the amount of fat in your blood. HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”) helps protect your heart. LDL cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) can clog your arteries. High triglyceride levels can raise your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Generally, your HDL should be above 40 mg/dl for men and 50 mg/dl for women and your LDL should be below 100 mg/dl. Your triglycerides should be below 150 mg/dl.
- What’s my A1C? A1C gives you a picture of your average blood glucose (blood sugar) control for the past two to three months.If you have diabetes, you monitor your A1C to help you tell if your diabetes treatment plan is working. The American Diabetes Association’s target for A1C is less than 7% for most people with diabetes. If you don’t have diabetes, your A1C can be used to tell if you have prediabetes or diabetes.
For more information, visit www.diabetes.org/INSERTVANITYURLHERE or call 1-800-DIABETES.