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For Good Health, Know Your Numbers

Keeping track of some crucial numbers can go a long way in keeping you healthy. Here are five numbers that can guide you toward good health.

  1. Blood pressure. Adults ages 18 and older should have their blood pressure checked every two years to ensure it’s below 120/80 mmHg. If yours is higher, you should have it checked more often.
  2. Blood sugar. Starting at age 45, have your blood sugar tested every three years. After an overnight fast, normal blood sugar levels should be 99 mg/dL or lower.
  3. Cholesterol. Adults ages 20 and older should have their cholesterol measured at least once every four to six years.  Performed after an overnight fast, this test creates a lipoprotein profile that reveals your levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol; HDL, or good cholesterol; and triglycerides, another type of blood fat. A total cholesterol score of less than 180mg/dL is considered optimal.
  4. Body Mass Index (BMI): BMI is a measure of how much body fat you have. Carrying extra weight increases your risk for health problems like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. To find your BMI, use the BMI calculator at cdc.gov/bmi. A normal, healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9 for most adults.
  5. Waist size: Your waist circumference should be less than 40 inches if you’re a man, and less than 35 inches if you’re a woman.

Keep in mind that your goals may be different based on your personal risk factors. Ask your doctor to help you set goals that are tailored to you. In addition to watching these key numbers, check with your doctor about preventive screenings for colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer.

Sources

“Numbers Than Count For A Healthy Heart.” American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/ToolsForYourHeartHealth/Numbers-That-Count-for-a-Healthy-Heart_UCM_305427_Article.jsp

“Body Mass Index (BMI Calculator).” American Heart Association. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/WeightManagement/BodyMassIndex/Body-Mass-Index-BMI-Calculator_UCM_307849_Article.jsp.

“How are Overweight and Obesity Diagnosed?”  National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/diagnosis.html

“Lifestyle Changes and Cholesterol.” American Heart Association. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Lifestyle-Changes-and-Cholesterol_UCM_305627_Article.jsp.

“Heart-Health Screenings.” American Heart Association.  http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Heart-Health-Screenings_UCM_428687_Article.jsp.

“What Are Blood Tests?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/bdt/bdt_whatdo.html.

“What is High Blood Pressure?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Hbp/HBP_WhatIs.html.

“What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean.” American Heart Association. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/What-Your-Cholesterol-Levels-Mean_UCM_305562_Article.jsp

“Diagnosing Diabetes and Learning About Prediabetes” American Diabetes Association http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diagnosis/?loc=db-slabnav