Posted on Feb 08, 2024, 4 p.m.
A National Survey by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found that most people don’t know the numbers that can help to predict heart disease, but they know childhood addresses, parent’s phone numbers, or a best friend’s birthday. Keeping track of cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure can help to identify risk factors for heart disease, but less than half know their ideal weight or blood pressure, and less than 1 in 5 know their cholesterol or blood sugar levels.
“Recognizing heart disease risk factors early and adequately treating them can potentially prevent heart attacks, strokes and heart failure. As a society, we need to shift from sick care to preventative care so people can live their best and fullest lives possible,” said Laxmi Mehta, MD, director of Preventative Cardiology and Women’s Cardiovascular Health at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Sarah Ross Soter Endowed Chair in Women’s Cardiovascular Health Research.
The National Survey asked over 1,000 adults if they were aware of what their ideal weight was, and if they knew what their cholesterol, blood pressure, or blood sugar levels were. When it came to these key numbers only 44% knew their ideal weight, 35% knew their blood pressure, 16% knew their cholesterol, and only 15% knew their blood sugar levels. Yet 68% knew their childhood address and 58% knew their best friend’s birthday.
While many Americans may not recall these numbers, that doesn’t mean that they are not getting them checked. According to the findings, the majority of respondents said that within the last year, they had their heart rate and blood pressure checked, and they had their cholesterol and blood sugar levels tested within the past five years.
“Most people associate diabetes with either their family history or being overweight, and they don’t make the connection that it’s associated with heart disease. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or stroke than people without heart disease. And women with diabetes are at a higher risk for heart disease than men,” Mehta said.
“Most people can get screened at their physician’s office or, if they don’t have one, there are free health screening fairs as well as blood pressure machines at pharmacies,” Mehta said. “It’s important to not only know your numbers but be proactive with medication and lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. When you visit your doctor, ask what your numbers are for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar and what a normal range is for you. Discuss your sleep habits along with diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol use. Also, none of us like to talk about our own weight but it’s an important conversation because being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease.”
Fast Facts For Healthy Heart Numbers:
Blood pressure numbers- the top number is systolic and ideally it should be under 120 mmHg, the bottom number is diastolic and ideally it should be under 80 mmHg.
Blood sugar- testing should be done after fasting for at least 8 hours, and ideally, it should be less than 100 mg/dL or a hemoglobin A1C of less than 5.7.
Cholesterol- you’ll need to have a discussion with your health care professional about what your recommended range of cholesterol and triglycerides levels are and how this impacts you.
BMI- A normal body mass index range is between 18.5 and 24.9.
Sleep- Recommendations are that you should aim for an average of 7-9 hours of sleep daily.
“It’s also important to know your family’s health history and discuss it with your doctor. There could be risk factors that require medication or lifestyle changes and the earlier they’re known, the better. Sometimes people have heart attacks or strokes because their blood pressure or cholesterol levels are really high and they never had them checked,” Mehta said.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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