According to a recent study over half the cases of heart disease are preventable. Even small lifestyle changes have a big effect on your overall heart health, however it all starts with knowing the results of four critical tests.
Know Your Numbers
Certain lab test results show the condition of your heart health and your risk of having a "heart-related event"- not something you want to experience. In particular you should know your numbers from these tests:
- Cholesterol (HDL, LDL and Total)
- Blood pressure
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
Once you have the baseline numbers, you and your doctor can create a plan to get the numbers that are out of whack back in line.
Your body makes and needs cholesterol in order to survive, but if the good HDL gets too low or the bad LDL too high, your risk for a heart attack will increase. As far as the numbers, an optimal Total Cholesterol is less than 200mg/dL. Your LDL should be less than 130mg/dL, and an optimal level is less than 100mg/dL. HDL should be greater than 40mg/dL, with 60mg/dL considered optimal and protective against heart disease..
Staying at a healthy weight, not smoking, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet of lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grain, will help bring your numbers back in line. If it doesn't, your doctor may put you on a statin-based medication.
This measurement shows the fats in your blood. A good number is 150mg/dL or lower. Just by lowering the amount of saturated fat you eat and losing weight, you can lower your number by 30% to 50%.
Blood pressure is the force exerted on the blood vessels by your heart pumping blood throughout your body. Blood pressure is expressed as a maximum pressure (systolic) over a minimum pressure (diastolic) and displayed in millimeters of mercury. Ideally, it should be 120/80mm Hg or lower.
If your blood pressure is too high, try lowering it by losing weight if you are overweight, and by exercising and eating a healthy diet low in sodium. If it is still too high, your doctor may have to put you on a blood pressure medication, an antihypertensive and/or a diuretic, to get it down.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
If your BMI is over 24.9, you are overweight for your height and have an increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. You can lower your number by eating a healthy diet, losing weight and exercising.
Did you notice that most of the measurements are affected by eating a healthy diet, exercising and losing weight? Doing those three things, along with stopping smoking and limiting your intake of alcohol to one drink a day, will go a long way to getting your numbers in check without having to take any type of medication.
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