All-important health numbers everyone should know
You are the one living in your body so you know it best – or do you? Next time you visit your health care provider, be sure to ask for your critical health numbers to be screened and to develop a plan to manage them.
There is no better time than the present to take charge of your health. In order to live a healthy, fulfilled life free of frequent doctor’s visits, taking medications, or being hospitalized, there are certain health numbers you need to know. Knowing these numbers and what they mean to your health, is when you begin the journey of personal responsibility of leading a healthier, longer life.
1. Blood pressure
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 103 million American adults (32%) have high blood pressure – that’s 1 in every 3 adults. Besides adults, high blood pressure or hypertension can also develop in children. Having high blood pressure greatly increases the risk for heart disease and stroke leading causes of death in the U.S.
Know your blood pressure numbers. The only way you’ll know what it is, is to have your blood pressure tested, usually at a doctor’s office or pharmacy. Previous guidelines that have been used for many years defined high blood pressure as 140/90 millimeters of mercury or greater. Now, the new guidelines defines high blood pressure as 130/80 or greater. Always ask what it is every time you have it taken – it’s your right to know.
2. Body weight
Many people avoid stepping on a bathroom scale like the plague. But knowing how much you weigh is an overall indicator of your health. Currently, according to the CDC, more than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults are obese. Being obese puts a person at a higher risk for developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, gout, hypertension, chronic kidney disease and other leading causes of preventable deaths.
Here is a formula for determining a healthy weight range for men and women:
Women – Calculate 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height (60 inches). Add 5 pounds for every additional inch. For example, a woman who is 5 feet, 5 inches tall, her ideal weight would be 125 pounds. Give or take 10% depending on her frame size (small, medium, large) her healthy weight range is between 113 and 138 pounds.
Men – Calculate 106 pounds for the first five feet of height (60 inches). Add 6 pounds for every additional inch. So, if a man is 5 feet, 11 inches tall, ideally he would weigh 172 pounds or stay within a weight range of 155 to 189 pounds, plus or minus his frame size.
3. Waist size
How much you weigh is important but also critical is knowing what your waist size is. Having a large waistline means you have a type of fat deep within the abdominal cavity called visceral fat. Visceral fat also called belly fat is capable of releasing protein and hormones that cause inflammation which can damage arteries, enter the liver and affects how your body breaks down sugars and fat.
A waist size over 35 inches in women and over 40 inches in men greatly increases the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
To correctly measure your waist size, using a measuring tape, measure at your natural waistline which is above your hipbone and below the ribcage – about where the belly button is.
4. Blood lipid numbers
Having high blood lipid numbers puts a person at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. These numbers include knowing your total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol), low density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol), and triglycerides. Screenings for heart health should begin at age 20 and then with regular checks at least once every 5 years unless the levels are high, which then should be done more frequently.
5. Blood glucose number
Diabetes affects approximately 29 million Americans putting them at risk of serious health conditions of heart disease including stroke and peripheral artery disease, kidney disease, metabolic syndrome, vision damage and nerve damage which could lead to amputation.
Starting at age 45, you should have your blood glucose level taken every 5 years. However, if you are under the age of 45, overweight, and have one or more of the additional risk factors of the following, then you should be tested every 3 years:
· High blood pressure
· High blood cholesterol
· Family history of diabetes
· Are African American, Hispanic, Native American or Pacific Islander
· History of gestational diabetes or baby weighing more than 9 pounds