Flowers, candy and sappy greeting cards are all the rage this month but since February is also American Heart Month, it's a good time to take stock of what you are doing to keep your heart healthy.
Did you know that there are ways to help fight against heart attack, stroke and heart failure? Just knowing these five numbers could be your key to continuing a healthy life.
Blood Pressure (Less than 120/80 mm Hg) This number shows you how hard your heart is working. High blood pressure can damage your arteries and cause fatty plaque to build up. That build up is the perfect storm for a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.
Blood sugar (Less than 100 mg/dL) High blood sugar can cause damage to the blood vessels and cause glucose (sugar) buildup. Excess sugar causes platelets (parts of a cell) to stick together and more likely to produce a blood clot that can set off a heart attack or stroke.
LDL Cholesterol (Less than 100 mg/dL) the LDL number shows about two-thirds of what makes the cholesterol in your blood. Large amounts of LDL can stick themselves into the artery walls and cause atherosclerosis.
Triglycerides (Less than 150 mg/dL) excessive calories, alcohol, and sugars in the body are turned into triglycerides (the most common form of fat in the bloodstream) and stored in fat cells. Just like excess cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides have been linked to higher risks of heart attack and stroke.
Waist Circumference- (Whichever number is lower: Less than half your height in inches OR Women: Less than 35 inches, Men: Less than 40 inches) The way to get a proper reading is to measure your waist above the abdomen above your belly button. Bigger bellies could indicate abdominal obesity which causes fat to surround your organs. This fat can encourage inflammation that can lead to atherosclerosis.
All these factors can be addressed with your physician. Physicians use these numbers to get an idea of how your heart is doing, what your overall health looks like and what you may need to work on for a healthier life. Did you know that you, as a Franciscan Health Fitness Centers member, may sign-up for a FREE FITNESS ASSESSMENT that will evaluate your baseline fitness numbers? Your fitness specialist will develop a results-oriented program for you based on the results of the fitness assessment. Having healthy eating habits will keep your body and your doctor happy by keeping these five numbers low. We offer one-on-one nutritional assistance through Nutrition Counseling with Kristal Twardy, Registered Dietitian and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Our thanks to Alexandria Montanez Programs Specialist, Franciscan Health Fitness Centers Chesterton, for writing this blog.
Resources: 5 numbers linked to ideal heart health - Harvard Health