The month of February, known as the American Heart Health Month, is the ideal time to increase your focus on heart health. According to Millions Hearts, one in every three deaths in America is related to cardiovascular disease. This means heart health is a crucial aspect of everyone’s overall health and life expectancy. In honor of this special month, let’s look at some vital numbers you need to know that reveal your overall heart health and tell you what you need to improve:
Numbers You Need to Know For Heart Health Month
- Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Your blood pressure is the measurement of the force that pushes blood against the blood vessel walls. Having high blood pressure puts you at an increased risk for both heart attack and stroke. A healthy blood pressure is 130 or lower on top and 80 or higher on the bottom. Don’t wait to experience symptoms of a high blood pressure to have it checked. Hypertension is known by medical professionals as “the silent killer” because it is notorious for striking without warning. There are usually no symptoms at all to look for, so regular visits to your doctor to check blood pressure levels are wise.
- Cholesterol: Your body makes two types of cholesterol. One is known as the good, or HDL, and one is known as the bad or LDL cholesterol. They are measured together and then combined with 20% of your triglyceride score to determine a total overall cholesterol level. A healthy or ideal cholesterol score is 200 or below. If you measure from 200 to 239, you are considered a borderline risk. If this number is above 240 or more, you are diagnosed with high cholesterol. When your cholesterol is high, this means it is building up along your arteries, which can eventually lead to heart disease if left unchecked.
- Resting Heart Rate: This number indicates how many times your heart beats in a minute’s time when you are at rest. If your resting heart rate is on the lower end, this suggests cardiovascular fitness. Conversely, if your resting heart rate is elevated, it could indicate a potential cardio issue. You can check your resting heart rate on your own. The best time to do so is first thing in the morning. Take your pulse for 15 seconds, then multiply this number by 4 to get your resting heart rate. Ideally, a healthy resting heart rate is anywhere from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Keep in mind, some medications can alter your heart rate, so take that into consideration when contemplating this measurement.
- Blood Glucose Level: Your blood sugar numbers are fluid, changing depending on the time of day and what you eat. However, your fasting blood sugar rate should be less than 100 if you have a healthy blood glucose level. A number higher than this could indicate your body is struggling to regulate blood glucose levels. This can eventually lead to diabetes and increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. If you do not have a way to measure our blood sugar levels at home, ask your doctor to check it during your regular checkups.
Keep the numbers above in mind this February to truly embrace Heart Health Month. Each one could indicate a potential issue with your cardiovascular health that should be addressed to ensure optimal heart health and increase life expectancy.