How healthy is your heart? The usual way to measure risks to heart health is through standard blood tests and body measurements. Findings from these tests may lead your doctor to recommend more extensive tests.
– Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by our bodies and obtained from food. There are two major types of cholesterol:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol because it can build up on the inside of the arteries and potentially cause a blockage.Generally, you want a blood test result of under 100 mg/dL.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is sometimes called the “good” cholesterol because it helps carry bad cholesterol out of your body. Blood levels of 40–50 mg/dL for men and 50–59 mg/dl for women are considered normal, but levels higher than 60 mg/dl seem to be the healthiest.
– Triglycerides are the main storage form of fat in the body. When you pinch your skin, the fat underneath the skin is triglycerides. Triglycerides are also found in the blood when they are being moved [triglycerides cannot move on their own thru the bloodstream but are carried by lipoproteins] around your body to be used for energy. A healthy triglyceride level is generally under 150 mg/dL.
– Fasting blood sugar is a measurement of the amount of sugar in your bloodstream after a night of not eating. A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL is normal.
– Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure inside your blood vessels, typically measured at the upper arm. There are two blood pressure numbers: the first, called systolic, is the peak pressure that occurs when your heart beats; and the diastolic is the background pressure in your circulatory system. The numbers are expressed as systolic/diastolic, and you generally would like your numbers to be below 120/80. Here is a blood pressure chart for more information: American Heart Association
– Body mass index (BMI) is a calculation using weight and height (a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a calculator that you can use: Adult BMI Calculator. A higher BMI suggests higher body weight and fat and is associated with increased risk for various heart conditions.
– Waist-to-hip ratio is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips and tells a story similar to the BMI. People with a relatively larger waistline are at greater risk of lifestyle-related conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
Talk to your doctor for more information on how and when to get these important tests scheduled.