Your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index numbers are key indicators of your risk for major illness.
If you know these numbers, you can take action to reduce your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes and other major chronic illnesses.
Cholesterol Target: Less Than 200
A sudden heart attack may not be "sudden" at all, but be caused by years of living with high cholesterol and extra fats stored by the body. The normal range for total cholesterol is less than 200.
You also need to know your "healthy" HDL cholesterol and "lousy" LDL cholesterol numbers. High total cholesterol, high LDL, or low HDL means you need to take immediate action to prevent a possible heart attack or stroke.
There are no definite symptoms of high cholesterol. That's why it's important to see your doctor and know your cholesterol numbers.
Blood Pressure Target: Less Than 120/80
Blood pressure measures the amount of force it takes your heart to pump blood through your body. High blood pressure (or "hypertension") increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. High blood pressure damages your brain, eyes and arteries, too. Your blood pressure should be less than 120 over 80.
You may have no symptoms of high blood pressure. About 60% of all Americans more than 60 years old have high blood pressure, and it occurs more often among African-Americans. In Mississippi nearly a million people have high blood pressure, and 300,000 of them don't know it.
Anyone can have high blood pressure. Check with your doctor to learn your blood pressure numbers and what you can do to keep them on target.
Blood Sugar Target: 80 to 99
Glucose is sugar stored in the blood as your body's main source of energy. If your glucose is too high or too low, you may have diabetes. The average blood sugar range is between 80 and 99.
If your fasting blood sugar is 126 or greater, you might be diagnosed with diabetes. One out of three people with diabetes in Mississippi either don't know they have it, or aren't getting treatment. Symptoms involve frequent urination, extreme hunger, thirst, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, or blurry vision. A fasting blood sugar from 100 to 125 means that you may develop diabetes in the future, and you should take steps to lower your blood sugar.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you need to have your A1C number checked. You A1C number tells you how well you're controlling your blood sugar over time. Your A1C should be less than 7.
Left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, blindness, amputation of arms or legs, and kidney disease. To take steps against diabetes early, see your doctor and know your numbers.
Body Mass Index Target: Less Than 25
Body mass index (BMI) measures your weight in relation to your height, and should be less than 25. A BMI of 25 or over means you are overweight, and a 30 or higher means you are obese. Extra weight can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
Check with your doctor to determine your BMI, then take action to control your weight.
Take Charge of Your Health For a Better Life
You can take steps now to improve your health and life:
- Control your weight
- Be more physically active
- Don't use tobacco products
- Eat healthy foods
- ... and Know Your Numbers!