The Top 5 Personal Health Numbers You Need to Know
By: Cathleen McKnight, DNP, APRN
Have you completed an annual wellness check this year? Are you up to date on recommended preventive health screenings and vaccinations for the year?
Check on these 5 health numbers at your next check-up! The American Heart Association recommends monitoring of these measures to help determine your risk for developing heart disease. Want to stay healthy? Take the pledge today to discover your personal health numbers!
1. Total Cholesterol
Total blood cholesterol is the measure of cholesterol components including low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol), high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol), and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL or the fat and oil component).
The goal for healthy total cholesterol is less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Total cholesterol should be reviewed and interpreted by your healthcare professional with the component breakdown to evaluate your risk for heart disease.
2. HDL “Good” Cholesterol
HDL cholesterol is the “good” or “protective” cholesterol that takes the “bad” LDL cholesterol out of your blood, preventing gunk build up in arteries. An HDL value of 60 mg/dL or higher helps lower risk for heart disease. In contrast, an HDL value less than 40 mg/dL is low and considered a risk factor for heart disease.
Though shedding a few pounds (if overweight) may lift this number, it’s important to focus on regular exercise and incorporation of healthy fats to kick the “good” cholesterol up a notch.
3. Blood Pressure
Blood pressure (BP) is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries. Maintaining a healthy blood pressure within normal range is important to prevent stroke, heart disease, and other health problems. Regular monitoring can help to reduce associated risks.
Check your BP at home, a pharmacy blood pressure kiosk, local clinic, or at your primary care practitioner’s office. Follow up with your healthcare practitioner if elevated or high blood pressure is detected.
Blood Pressure Reading
- Normal BP: <120/<80 mm Hg Less than 120 -and- Less than 80
- Elevated BP: 120-129/<80 mm Hg 120-129 -and- Less than 80
- Stage 1 High BP: 130-139/80-89 130-139 -or- 80-89 mm Hg
- Stage 2 High BP: ≥140 -or- ≥90 mm Hg Either number greater than or equal to 140/90
- High BP Crisis: >180/>120 *Greater than 180 -and/or- Greater than 120 *Consult your healthcare practitioner immediately
4. Fasting Blood Sugar
Fasting blood sugar (FBG) is a test to determine how much sugar, also known as glucose, is in a blood sample after an 8-12 hour fast. FBG is commonly performed to detect prediabetes (100-125 mg/dL) and diabetes mellitus (126 mg/dL and greater).
Diabetes is a treatable, chronic condition that greatly increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 Americans has prediabetes and more than 30.3 million have diabetes. However, many folks do not get tested, which slows identification and allows disease progression. Don’t fall through the cracks – know your number!
5. Body Mass Index
Obesity and excess weight are strongly related to heart disease. Body mass index (BMI) is a general health measure used to approximate body fatness by screening weight categories that are more likely to lead to health troubles.
Know your height and weight? Calculate your BMI here, then check the cart below to see in which category your measurement falls.
BMI Category (BMI Measurement)
- Underweight (Below 18.5)
- Healthy Weight (18.5 – 24.9)
- Overweight (25.0 – 29.9)
- Obese (30.0 and Above)
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.