You may not realize you are at risk for cardiovascular disease or diabetes unless you keep track of your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels on a regular basis. By knowing a few simple numbers, you can make changes to improve your health.
Knowledge is Power
Having a regular physical exam is important to monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. You should talk to your health care provider about your numbers and what they mean for long-term health. Improving your diet, eating less sugar and fat, and exercising more, along with getting proper medication, if needed, can help you beat the numbers game.
Ideal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg or lower—but not too low. Blood pressure at or below 90/60 mm Hg is considered too low. Blood pressure is easy to monitor regularly with the wide availability of home monitors and monitors available in pharmacies, but you should speak with your doctor about how often you need to take your blood pressure and the best way to do so.
Ideal fasting blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter of blood) or A1c of 5.6 percent or lower. The A1c is a simple blood test that measures your blood sugar average over the past three months. The CDC recommends having a baseline A1c at age 45 and then again every three years.
University of Utah Clinical Dietitian Sarah Zou says ideal cholesterol levels vary from person to person depending on individual medical history and risk factors. According to the CDC, desirable total cholesterol is under 200 mg/dL, but again it's best to discuss results with your health care provider.
A Healthy Bottom Line
The bottom line: Win at the health game by knowing your numbers, eating healthy foods, exercising, and discussing your particular numbers with your health care provider on a regular basis.