10 heart-health numbers you need to know
"Knowing your heart-health numbers and using them to guide exercise, diet and medical care will help you maintain heart health," says Robert Singer, MD
, Virtua cardiologist and medical director of Virtua Marlton's Chest Pain Center.
135 exceeds the limit
The ideal blood pressure is 120 over 70. Steven Scuderi, MD, Virtua internal medicine physician, says: "If your top number reaches 135 or more and your bottom number reaches 80 or more, your blood pressure is too high."
3 numbers for lipid profile
Your cholesterol or lipid profile includes low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol, and triglycerides. Your low-density lipoprotein should be 100 or less; your high-density lipoprotein should be 40 or more for men and at least 45 to 50 for women; and your triglycerides should be 150 or less.
9 common risk factors
Dr. Scuderi says there are nine common risk factors for heart disease: family history, smoking, lack of physical activity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, age and poor diet.
5 common symptoms
Symptoms of heart disease include chest pain or discomfort, irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness or dizziness, loss of consciousness and fatigue. Dr. Singer adds: "Many women experience uncommon symptoms like sleep disturbances, shortness of breath and anxiety. Do not ignore signs; see your doctor right away."
7 topics to discuss
Dr. Scuderi suggests that during your regular doctor visits, talk honestly about: your frequency of exercise, family medical history, smoking habits, diet, diabetes risk, and stress levels.
40 inches around
"A man's waist should not exceed 40 inches and a woman's should not exceed 35 inches," says Dr. Singer. "Excess abdominal fat can increase your risk for heart disease."
18.5 to 24.9 indicates a normal ratio
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a formula to measure body fat based on height to weight ratio. Dr. Scuderi says: "It tells you whether you are underweight, normal, overweight or obese." To learn your BMI, use this formula: (Weight x 703) divided by (Height in inches 2)
50 to 85 percent hits the target
When exercising, it's important to reach and maintain your target heart rate. To calculate it, subtract your age from 220. Fifty to 85 percent of this number equals your target heart rate. Exercise 25 to 30 minutes five or six times a week within your target heart rate.
1 aspirin a day
While a daily dose of aspirin has been shown to help prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clots, Dr. Scuderi advises: "You should take a daily dose of aspirin only if you've been instructed to do so by your physician."
2 tests to take
"Two tests commonly performed on high-risk patients are cardiac stress tests and echocardiograms," explains Dr. Singer. Ask your doctor if these tests are right for you.
As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, four acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, seven ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare
, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
and the Fox Chase Cancer Center
. Virtua employs more than 8,400 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit www.virtua.org