5 important numbers to know for heart health
We can’t change something we’re not paying attention to. That’s why it’s important to have regular primary care visits to keep an eye on certain numbers that are critical for your health. Internist Robert Kneece, MD, offered five heart health numbers that can help you improve and maintain your heart health.
“Once you know your numbers, you can talk with your doctor about how to best manage and lower your risk for heart disease,” he said.
1. Blood pressure
Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease because it puts a strain on your heart and arteries.
- 120/80 most of the time, it is considered normal
- More than 120/80 but less than 140/90 most of the time, it is considered prehypertension
- 140/90 or higher, it is considered hypertension, or high blood pressure
2. Body mass index
Body mass index, or BMI, is a calculation based on your height and weight. BMI gives an idea of your potential health risks based on your weight. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can benefit your health in general and goes a long way to lowering your risk for heart disease.
- Less than 18.5 = underweight
- 18.5 to 24.9 = normal weight
- 25 to 29.9 = overweight
- 30 or greater = obese
3. Blood sugar level
Your blood sugar level, also called your blood glucose level, shows the amount of sugar in your blood. Over time, elevated blood sugar levels can damage your heart and blood vessels.
- Less than 100 mg/dl = normal
- 100 to 125 mg/dl = prediabetes
- 126 mg/dl or higher = diabetes
4. Total cholesterol level
Cholesterol is a waxy substance made by the liver that is an essential part of cell walls and nerves. When there is an excess of cholesterol in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries, causing a process called atherosclerosis, a form of heart disease. Your arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart muscle is slowed down or blocked.
- 200 mg/dL or lower = normal
- 200–239 mg/dL = borderline high
- 240 mg/dL or higher = high
5. HDL cholesterol level
High-density lipoproteins or HDL is called “good” cholesterol because it helps remove bad cholesterol, preventing it from building up inside the arteries. You want a higher level of HDL in your total cholesterol. You can help increase your HDL with an active lifestyle and heart healthy diet.
- HDL of 60 or greater = high
- HDL of 41–59 = normal
- HDL of 40 or lower = low
Find a doctor
Whether you’re looking for a primary care physician or need to see a specialist, we’re here to help with experienced, compassionate care near you.Find a Doctor