Heart Disease By The Numbers

When it comes to having a healthy heart, it really is a game of numbers. By seeing your primary care physician on an annual basis, you can stay on top of these important numbers and help your doctor find heart problems at an earlier stage.

Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure has two numbers. The first measures the pressure in your arteries when the heart pumps out blood; the second measures the pressure when your heart is at rest.

Normal: Below 120/80

Prehypertension: 120–139/80–89

Hypertension: 140 or higher/90 or higher

There are two types of cholesterol, the good called HDL, and the bad or LDL.

A cholesterol test measures both and combines them to give a number for your total cholesterol. It also measures your triglycerides, the fat in your blood used by the body to provide energy. Here are the numbers you should shoot for:

Total cholesterol: 200 or lower

HDL (good) cholesterol: 50 or higher for women, 40 or higher for men

LDL (bad) cholesterol: 100 or lower, especially if you have diabetes

Triglycerides: Less than 150

Improving your cholesterol numbers just a little bit makes a big difference. If you raise your HDL by just five points, for example, you decrease your risk of heart disease by 10 percent!

Waist Size
According to experts, waist size is a much better indicator than weight of a person’s overall health and their risk for heart disease. Women with a waist more than 35 inches and men with a waist of more than 40 inches increase their risk for heart attack and stroke.