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5 important numbers to know for your heart health

February 05, 2016

Each February is designated as American Heart Month, and with heart disease killing more Americans than any other illness, everyone needs to understand how important it is to take care of their hearts. According to Deepthi Mosali, MD, a cardiologist at Cardiology Specialists of Dayton, all Americans should “know their numbers” and monitor their health annually.

  1. Blood pressure: One of the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease is high blood pressure, so everyone should check this routinely. The ideal is 120/80 or less, so if you are between 120 – 139 (top number or systolic) and 80-89 (bottom number or diastolic), you are pre-hypertensive. Pre-hypertensive individuals are identified as those who likely will become hypertensive at some point if they don’t work on lifestyle changes. New data indicates that, the better blood pressure is controlled, the lower the risk for congestive heart failure.
  2. Cholesterol: Two numbers, which can be measured through a simple blood test, are looked at for cholesterol. Total cholesterol ideally should be less than 200, and what is known as bad cholesterol, or LDL should be below 100. While good cholesterol or HDL is no longer treated if it is too low, studies show that people with high good cholesterol levels tend to do better avoiding heart disease in the long term.
  3. Fasting glucose: This number should be under 100 -- between 100-125 is bordering on too high. If you are in that zone, you should lose weight and work on diet to make sure you don’t become diabetic.
  4. Body Mass Index (BMI): This number can be easily calculated through a weight and height equation. Anything above 25 is considered overweight. If you are over 30, you are considered obese, and a BMI over 40 is morbidly obese. Heavier individuals also should be aware that women with a waist circumference of 35 inches or higher, and men with 40 inches or higher, are at higher risk of heart disease.
  5. Physical activity: Sedentary lifestyles are a direct risk factor for heart disease, and most Americans do not get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise, five or more days per week. Even if you can’t do it all in one stretch, break your activity up into 10-minute intervals. This should be moderate intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, biking or working out on an elliptical machine.

In addition, a diet rich in fresh foods, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains and limited processed foods, is also important to optimum cardiac health. “People should also focus on eating smaller portions,” Mosali said.

Do you have a question for Dr. Mosali? You can ask her in person at Kettering Health Network’s “From A to Zumba” on Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 5:30-8 p.m. at Fairmont High School’s Trent Arena (3301 Shroyer Road). Besides Zumba exercise, this free event features a health fair with free blood pressure screenings and cardiologists who will provide healthy heart tips. RSVP today.  Visit the From A to Zumba webpage.

How healthy is your heart? Take the risk quiz and find out!