5 Numbers Everyone Should Know
About one in three people has high blood pressure, the driving force behind heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Because high blood pressure often has no symptoms, you'll need to keep track of your own numbers. The systolic pressure — the top number — should never be over 120.
Waist size is one of the strongest predictors of heart disease and diabetes. Measure yours by placing a measuring tape around your waist above your hip bone and below your rib cage. It should be less than half your height — about 35 inches for a man and 321/2 inches for a woman.
More than 60 percent of adults in the United States are overweight, and one-third are obese. For the average woman standing 5 feet 4 inches, the starting point for obesity is 175 pounds. The average man standing 5 feet 9 inches is obese if he weighs 196 pounds. Losing just 10 pounds can help.
Your cholesterol levels are measured with a simple blood test. But the total cholesterol number is not as important as knowing your HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. HDL should be above 40 mg/dL for a man and 50 mg/DL for a woman. LDL should be below 100 mg/dL.
Elevated blood sugar levels can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, even Alzheimer's disease. For the most accurate measurement, fasting blood sugar must be taken at least eight hours after eating. A fasting blood sugar reading above 100 is considered prediabetic.
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