by Jackie Smith
To try and help you, I’ve put together a check list that includes many of the things you need to know about how you can evaluate where you place in a heart healthy life and some of the things you can do to try and improve your heart health.
Check: When was the last time you had a physical check up with your doctor? If you can’t even remember, maybe it’s a good time to have one. During this physical, you can find out your current weight, blood pressure, resting heart rate, blood test for cholesterol levels, triglyceride level, and blood sugar level. Don’t forget to get the results.
Check: Healthy hearts need healthy weight ranges. Women, an approximate rule of thumb for most people is to take your height, give yourself 100 pounds for your first 5 feet and add an additional 5 pounds for every additional inch. Once you reach a figure, add or subtract 10 percent of that figure and see if your body weight falls somewhere within or very near the range.
Men, give yourselves 106 pounds for the first five feet of height and add an additional 6 pounds per additional inch and follow the same formula.
Don’t panic if you are way off. Muscle ways more than fat. Don’t kid yourselves either. If you are way over, and you know it’s not muscle, it’s time to do something.
Check: Another quick gauge to see if you are carrying whatever weight you do have correctly is simply measuring your waste circumference since this can be the ‘danger zone’ for excess fat. Greater than 35” for women and greater than 40” for men could indicate risk.
Check: The most recent research is indicating that blood pressure measurements BELOW 120 over 80 is considered healthy and ideal.
Check: Your resting heart rate indicates how much work (beats) your heart is doing while at rest. Average healthy numbers are considered somewhere in the 70’s for beats per minute. Many people average anywhere from 60 to 100 bpm. If you are in the high range, its time to get it down.
Check: For a long time, a total cholesterol count of under 200 was considered good. More recent information is saying the number should be lower, more like 150. Even better research has proven that high HDL (good cholesterol) is the most important factor, along with a decent total number. Look at ‘65’ for a decent HDL number. As far as triglycerides, the old acceptable range was 150 or below. New thinking has the goal being more like 100 or so.
Check: The big overlooked one…SUGAR…we all love sugar and it’s in EVERTHING. Don’t just go with your fasting short term level which should be 100 or less. Find out your A1C for a better predictor of developing diabetes which is NOT heart healthy. Keep this number below 7. Some doctors want it even lower. Good for them.
Check: If your reaction is ‘crap’ to any or all of the above, next month’s column will provide you with ways to do something about it.
Smokers, don’t wait until next month. Stop now.