10 heart-health numbers 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.