Published: September 26, 2018
5 Numbers you need to know
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of the arteries. It is measured as two numbers—the systolic pressure (top), as the heart beats, and the diastolic pressure (bottom), as the heart relaxes between beats. A normal blood pressure is under 120/80. If your blood pressure is consistently higher than 120/80, talk with your doctor. Simple life changes can help lower blood pressure and potentially avoid medication and long-term consequences.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is the measurement of your weight for your body surface area and is considered a reliable indicator of body fat for most people. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by the square of your height (in meters). A BMI less than 18.5 is considered underweight. Under 25 is normal. A BMI of 25 through 29.9 is overweight, and 30 or higher is considered obese. This number is important in understanding what weight is acceptable for a person’s stature.
Fat that is carried around the abdomen increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Measure your waist at the belly button (not where the waistband of your clothing sits). Women should be less than 35 inches in waist measurement and men should be less than 40 inches.
While the body makes all of the cholesterol it needs, it is also found in the foods we eat. High cholesterol can lead to heart disease and atherosclerosis, or build-up of plaque in the arteries. It is important to know your total cholesterol number and your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) number. LDL is bad cholesterol that can cause problems. A healthy overall number is below 200. A healthy LDL number is below 100.
Blood sugar readings tell you how much glucose is in your blood. High levels of blood glucose cause diabetes, which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease. A healthy fasting blood sugar number is under 100.