The most important numbers everyone should know

The Most Important Numbers Everyone Should Know

Your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body mass index numbers are key indicators of your risk for serious illness. If you know these important numbers, you can make changes to improve your health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses.

Total Cholesterol – Goal is < 200 The normal range for total cholesterol is 200 or less. You also need to know your "healthy" HDL cholesterol and "bad" LDL cholesterol numbers.

A full understanding of your cholesterol profile requires measurements of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. The optimal range for HDL cholesterol is more than 60 and LDL cholesterol should be less than 100.

If your LDL is 200 or more, it is considered very high. High total cholesterol, high LDL, or low HDL may increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

There are no definite symptoms of high cholesterol, so it's important to see your doctor and know your cholesterol numbers. Cholesterol levels should be measured at least once every five years in everyone over age 20. The screening test that is usually performed is a blood test called a lipid profile.

Experts recommend that men ages 35 and older and women ages 45 and older be more frequently screened for lipid disorders.

Blood Pressure – Goal is 120/80 or less High blood pressure (hypertension) increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.  It also can damage your brain, eyes and arteries.  Anyone can have high blood pressure, and many people do not have symptoms, so it's important to check with your doctor, and know your numbers.

Blood Sugar (Glucose) – Goal is < 130 Glucose is sugar stored in your blood as your body's main source of energy. The average blood sugar range is between 80 and 120.

If your blood sugar is too high or too low, you may have diabetes. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, and other complications. Be sure to check with your doctor, and know your numbers.

Body Mass Index – Goal is < 25 Your body mass index (BMI) measures your weight in relation to your height. A BMI over 25 means that you are overweight, and a number over 30 indicates obesity. That extra weight can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Your doctor can help you determine your BMI and your ideal weight.