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A Message from Dr. Stephen Kindred – Assistant Vice President, Corporate Medical
During annual wellness exams with my patients, I take a careful look at their "numbers" because knowing and understanding certain numbers can help prevent many serious illnesses and maintain or improve their overall health. Knowing your numbers can also help you and your doctor identify and manage your risks and create a plan for a healthier you.
Mayo Clinic suggests that these are the numbers that matter the most:
- Blood pressure – This is determined by the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. A reading of less than 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal.
- Blood sugar – This is determined by the amount of glucose, a type of sugar, in your bloodstream. A fasting blood sugar level less than 100 mg/dL is considered normal.
- Cholesterol & Triglycerides – These are determined by a blood test, known as a lipoprotein profile, that measures the amount of certain “fats” in your bloodstream, including:
- Total cholesterol – Less than 200 mg/dL is considered normal.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – Less than 100 mg/dL is considered normal.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – 40 mg/dL or above is recommended, yet 50 mg/dL or above is ideal.
- Triglycerides – Less than 130 mg/dL is recommended, yet below 100 mg/dL is ideal.
- Body mass index – This measures your weight in relation to your height. A measurement between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal.
- Waist circumference – This is determined by measuring the distance around your waist. A waist measurement of less than 35 inches for women and less than 40 inches for men reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
Bob, Property Claim Trainer in the North Central Zone, understands the importance of knowing his numbers. Last year, his office offered local cholesterol screenings for a minimal fee. Although he almost did not take advantage of this opportunity, he is now grateful that he did as his total cholesterol had peaked to 255 mg/dL. “As a follow-up to these results, I met with my physician,” says Bob. “He believed that I could lower my total cholesterol to below 200 mg/dL by losing some weight.”
Bob started walking during lunch and eventually added running to his exercise routine. He also added more fruits and vegetables to his diet and avoided chips. “After 6 weeks, I was very encouraged because my weight dropped from 208 pounds to 190 pounds. I knew I could do it!” adds Bob. He now weighs 175 pounds and has lowered his total cholesterol to 171 mg/dL. And better yet, his wellness efforts have rubbed off on his family – his wife and oldest daughter have been inspired to get in shape too.
“Once I made the decision to make some simple changes in my life, I was surprised that losing weight wasn’t that difficult,” says Bob. “Basic food substitutions and increased physical activity ended up being the right combination for me. I’m keeping my weight just at or below 175 pounds and I feel great!”
It’s as Easy as 1-2-3!
Like Bob, taking steps towards a healthier you can be easy! There are many things you can do every day to achieve your goals. To get started, the American Heart Association suggests these three steps:
- Get Active
Start getting regular, moderate exercise, at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.
- Eat Right
Healthy food habits can help you reduce risk factors for heart attack and stroke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess body weight.
- Put Out the Smoke
Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. If you smoke, you have a greater risk of illness and death from heart attack, stroke and other diseases. If you are ready to quit tobacco and take this step to a healthier lifestyle, consider participating in the Quit For Life® program.
Know and Track Your Numbers
Once you know and understand your numbers (and take steps towards improving them), start tracking those measurements too! This will also allow you to watch your progress over time. And don't just do it for the "numbers," do it for you and your loved ones!
Live Well, Be Well. Empowering you to do the math!
Visit WebMD to learn more about the Key Numbers for Heart Health.
Learn more about the benefits of Getting Active, Staying Active from the American Heart Association.
Learn how to Eat Right with the help of the American Dietetic Association.
Having trouble kicking the habit? Check out the American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting Smoking.