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When it comes to heart health, know your numbers

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You probably know basic numbers that matter in your life – age, height, weight, even your heart rate. But what about more complex factors, like blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels? Together, they give you an important picture of your heart health and overall well-being.
 
Knowing your numbers – and what’s considered a healthy range for you – is key to taking care of you and your heart. That’s because high blood pressure, cholesterol out of line and too much glucose in your blood add up to a greater risk of heart attack, stroke and other health problems.
 
The first step to boosting your knowledge about your heart health is to track your numbers. Fortunately, getting those numbers is relatively simple.
 
Your healthcare provider takes your blood pressure every time you walk in the office – it’s that important! A medical provider also can set you up for routine lab tests to measure your cholesterol levels, how much sugar is in your blood and other factors.
 
These numbers give you and your provider a baseline of your overall health. It also can help you set goals to improve any not-so-good results.

What’s trending in your health?

Even if you feel fine, you may not realize when your numbers start to creep into a risky zone. Medications you take or stressful events in your life can affect lab results. Lifestyle choices – from what you eat to how much you exercise – also can alter your vital signs.
 
You and your provider can discuss any numbers that fall out of a normal range. Simple changes to your food choices and the amount of activity in your daily life can help you get control of your health. A life free of tobacco also makes a big difference.

What’s normal, what’s not?

Here’s what the numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar mean for your overall health.
 
Normal blood pressure is under 120/80 mm Hg. The two numbers tell you how hard your heart is working to pump blood through your body. High blood pressure means your heart works harder and causes stress to your heart and blood vessels – particularly if they are partly clogged. Too much stress on your heart and vascular system can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other problems.
 
Total cholesterol under 200 mg/dL is in the normal range. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in your blood. When it builds up, it can block your arteries and cut off blood flow throughout your body. High cholesterol is a primary cause of heart attack and stroke.
 
Average blood sugar numbers range between 70 and 99 mg/dL. Too much sugar in your blood can damage your vessels and nerves. It also may indicate that you have diabetes or prediabetes.

Talk to your doctor

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. That’s why a little knowledge about the healthy range for your numbers can go a long way toward keeping your heart healthy.
 
Talk with your healthcare provider to understand what your heart health numbers mean to you. Your provider can factor in important information, including your age and medical history, to give you a clear picture about your risks for heart disease.

If you want to talk to someone at Goshen Heart & Vascular Center, call (574) 537-5000.

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*Note: Some offices may require a provider referral to schedule an appointment.