Save your Life
Category : Health Tips
Important steps to watch
SURE, most of us have our social security numbers and cash card codes on the tips of our tongue, but how many of us are know some other important numbers that can add years to our lives, like our cholesterol levels and blood pressure?
We all make room in our heads for bank account numbers, voice mail codes, and other things which are important, but we really have to start keeping truck of the numbers that can save our lives,” says Donnica Moore, MD, president of the Sapphire Women’s Health Group in Neshanic Station, N.J. “Knowing what our cholesterol, blood pressure and other important numbers are and what they should be can help us set and meet the goals that can add years to our lives.”
Here are some of the numbers that should be on the tip of your tongue:
‘It’s important for all adults to know their Cholesterol numbers even 20- and 30-year- Olds” Serena Mulhern, MD, an internist in New York City tells WebMD. “Most people don’t become acquainted with these heart disease and stroke, but knowing them in your 20s and 30s can help you develop healthy habits for when you get older.”
The risk of heart disease rises as total blood cholesterol levels increase. Basically, cholesterol comes in three flavors – what many doctors call the good, the bad, and the ugly. The total cholesterol should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dl), low density lipoprotein (HDL) or “bad” cholesterol should be under 130 mg/dl, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good cholesterol should be over 35. “If your numbers do not fall in this range, the time is now to start taking steps to get them where they should be,” she says.
Example, eating a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol rich in fruits, vegetables can help lower
total and LDL cholesterol. And “engaging in 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise as many as four days a week can help boost HDL levels,” Mulhern says. Cholesterol can be measured by a simple blood test and is typically included in most yearly checkups.
“We should all know our blood pressure and take the necessary steps to get it down to where it ought to be, if it is too high,” Bruce Bagley, MD, past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a family physician in Albany, N.Y., tells WebMD. Blood pressure should be below 130 millimeters per mercury: (mmHg)/8 mmHg. The higher (systolic) number represents too high,” Bruce Bagley, MD, past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a family physician in Albany, N.Y., tells WebMD. Blood pressure should be below 130 millimeters per mercury (mmHg)/85 mmHg. The higher (systolic) number represents the pressure when the heart beats and the lower (diastolic) number represents the pressure in between beats. High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload, causing the heart to enlarge and weaken over time.
“If your pressure is more than 140/90, certain dietary changes, such as restricting salt or caffeine, and lifestyle changes, such as exercising more frequently can help bring it down,” Bagley says. “If you make these changes and it doesn’t go down, and then consider talking with your doctor about available medication, he says blood pressure can be tested simply in your doctor’s office using a device called a mercury sphygmomanometer and stethoscope.
Body Mass Index
Ever heard of this body mass index (BMI)? If not, you should team it because doctors are moving away from using standard weight and height measurements and toward BMI. ‘BMI takes into account your height and weight ratio, so it is a more accurate measurement,” Bagley says. For example, if you weigh 180 and are 6 feet 2 inches [tall],” it’s not so bad,” he says. BMI gives us a good handle on whether a person falls says. “BMI gives us a good hand le on whether a person falls into a normal range.”
BMI is defined as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. According to U.S. guidelines, a healthy BMI for adult men and women is between 19 and 25. A BMI of 30 or above is considered obese. A BMI of 25 to 30 is considered overweight Even without any other risk factors for heart disease, a man or woman aged 25 to 45 with a BMI above 32 has considered obese. A BMI of 25 to 30 is considered overweight. Even without any other risk factors for heart disease, a man or woman aged 25 to 45 with a BMI above 32 has triple the risk for heart disease or heart attack, when compared with non-obese people.
If you’re inclined to do the math, here’s how to calculate your BMI:
1. Multiply your weight in pounds by 703
Ex: 115 pounds x 703
2. Multiply your height in inches by your height in inches.
Ex: 5 feet, 5 inches tall= 65 inches
65 x 65 =4,225
3. Divide the answer to step 1 by the answer to step 2.
Ex. 80,845 / 4,225 = (about) 19.1
So, what is your BMI? If you’re not inclined to do the math, you can get your answer by using WebMD’s BMI calculator. Simply click on Health-E-Tools under Health and Wellness.
“If you are overweight or obese, the time is now to start dieting and exercising to bring your weight down into the normal range as obesity is considered a major risk factor for heart disease,” Bagley says.
“It’s unfortunate that we pay more attention to the date and time we need to get our car checked up than our own body,” Moore says. “People need to keep track of the dates of upcoming physical exams. I tell my patients to schedule their health exams as a gift to themselves on your birthday and then write them in their calendar so they don’t forget,”
Each year, many women need a mammogram/clinical breast exam, pap smear to test for cervical cancer, pelvic exam, skin exam, eye exam, and a fecal occult blood test for colon cancer along with a well visit, eye test, and dental exam, she says. And men need a yearly checkup, fecal occult blood test, dental and vision exam, she says. Other tests also may be necessary for men and women depending on their age and personal risk factors, Moore says.
“The time is now to make room in your memory for all these important numbers because the benefit on your health will be exponential,” Moor tells WebMD.