When it comes to heart disease tremendous progress has been made. Nowadays we realize that it’s one of the top health threats but sometimes we forget how we can be affected by it. We know that lifestyle has a more of an impact on our hearts than we ever thought possible. Here are some of the most obvious risk factors to keep your eyes open for during your next physical exam. Knowing where you lie in these important ranges will help you make a more informed decision about where you want to take your health and how much work you need to do.
1. Total cholesterol should be less than 200(mg/dL), LDL otherwise known as “bad” cholesterol should be less than 100mg/dL and less than 70 mg/dL if you’ve already had a heart attack or have vascular disease. HDL, or “good” cholesterol should be at least 60 mg/dL. Lowering your cholesterol will lower your heart disease risk within 6 months. If you stay within healthy ranges you drop your risk by 75% within 2 years.
2. Triglycerides (a form of fat in the blood) should be less than 150 mg/dL.
3. Blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mm Hg. Anything over 140/90 is defined as High. Keeping your blood pressure within a healthy range lowers your chances of having a heart attack and stroke by 20 – 50%.
4. Fasting blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dL. If it’s 126 md/dL or higher you have diabetes. Controlling your sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes, can cut your heart disease risk down by 20%.
If your numbers don’t fall within range it’s time to kick yourself into high gear and start lowering your chances of heart disease. Start following a sensible exercise and nutrition program and take care of your emotional health as well. Walking briskly for 3 – 5 hours a week can cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 35%. Don’t settle for prescriptions to help you lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, these don’t get to the root of the problem and won’t help lower your chances of heart disease.
This article was contributed by Jacqueline M. Banks.