February is American Heart Month, a perfect time to discuss the heart-healthy numbers you should aim for and what they mean.
BMI: Based on height-to-weight ratio, body mass index (BMI) is an overall indicator of healthy weight. BMI does not distinguish between women and men. Your BMI should be between 20 and 24.
WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE: Extra waistline inches can indicate heart disease risk because abdominal fat has a harmful effect on vital organs. People with a normal BMI but a high waist circumference are encouraged to reduce abdominal fat. Women should have a waist circumference of less than 35 inches, and men should have a waist circumference of less than 40 inches.
WAIST-TO-HIP RATIO: This ratio is sometimes used instead of waist circumference. To calculate, measure the circumference of your waist at its smallest point and measure the circumference of your hips at their widest point. Divide waist measurement by hip measurement. (Example: waist circumference = 35, hip circumference = 40, 35/40 = .88) Women should have a waist-to-hip ratio of less than 0.8, and men should have a waist-to-hip ratio of less than 0.95.
CHOLESTEROL: Your total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL. You’ll also need a breakdown cholesterol test to determine HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. HDL should be at least 40 mg/dL, and LDL should be less than 100.
FASTING TRIGLYCERIDES: Triglycerides are a bad type of fat found in food and body fat. You should have less than 150 mg/dL fasting triglycerides. This is a fasting test to ensure accurate results.
BLOOD SUGAR:Your blood sugar levels after at least eight hours of fasting can help pinpoint prediabetes or diabetes and should be 60–100 mg/dL. Blood sugar levels fluctuate normally throughout the day and increase after a meal.
BLOOD PRESSURE:Anything consistently higher than 120/80 mm/Hg is considered hypertension.
These numbers represent normal ranges without heart disease or diabetes. Work with your physician to develop a personalized strategy for health.
The Heart Hospital at Mercy Medical Center commits the very finest medical resources to caring for its heart patients. Our doctors and health care teams are leaders in cardiovascular treatment, and The Heart Hospital at Mercy is home to many impressive “firsts” in heart care. For more information, visit cantonmercy.org/heart.