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Know Your Numbers

Most people are good at having easy access to important phone numbers, but how about your heart numbers?

Cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference numbers help individuals monitor personal risk for heart disease, diabetes and other serious medical conditions. Knowing your numbers enables you to make changes in diet and lifestyle to lower your risk when necessary.

General recommendations include:

  • Blood pressure: 120/80 or lower
  • Fasting blood sugar: 100 or lower
  • BMI: 25 or lower
  • Total cholesterol: under 200 = desirable; 200-239 = borderline; over 240 = high
  • HDL: (good cholesterol)60 or higher
  • LDL: (bad cholesterol) 100 or lower = desirable; 100-129 = good; 130-159 = borderline; 160 or more = high
  • Waistline circumference: 35 inches or less for women; 40 inches or less for men (measured at the narrowest point at or above the belly button)

When it comes to cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries, while HDL (high-density lipoprotein) prevents cholesterol buildup and is often called “good cholesterol.”

Other risk factors to consider when monitoring the numbers above include your age, smoking, sedentary lifestyle and a family history of heart disease or diabetes.

Sources: American Heart Association, American Council on Exercise