During a heart check up, your doctor takes a careful look at your "numbers," including your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, your blood pressure and more. Knowing your numbers is an important part of keeping your heart-healthy. It can help you and your doctor know your risks and mark the progress you're making toward a healthier you.
To get a quick overview of numbers you need to know and the goals you need to reach, start by printing the following chart. If you choose, you can even post it on your refrigerator as a reminder to love your heart.
Then read on to learn the steps you can take to reduce your risk for heart disease. Once you know a few key facts about your numbers, you'll be on your way to mapping out a heart-healthy lifestyle for you and your loved ones.
Total Cholesterol Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL ("Bad") Cholesterol LDL cholesterol goals vary.
Less than 100 mg/dL
100 to 129 mg/dL
130 to 159 mg/dL
160 to 189 mg/dL
190 mg/dL and above Optimal
Near Optimal/Above Optimal
HDL (“Good”) Cholesterol 50 mg/dL or higher
Triglycerides <150 mg/dL
Blood Pressure <120/80 mmHg
Fasting Glucose <100 mg/dL
Body Mass Index (BMI) <25 Kg/m²
Waist Circumference <35 inches
Exercise Minimum of 30 minutes most days, if not all days of the week
* "<" means "less than"
Keep Your Numbers in Check
The first step to a healthy heart is learning the simple things you can do every day. By getting involved in fun physical activities and enjoying nutritious meals, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease. But don't do it for the "numbers," do it for you!
One of the best ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease is to start getting regular, moderate exercise, at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Of course, if it's been a while since you've been physically active, the hardest part is just getting started. Lucky for you, there's the Go Red BetterU™, a free 12-week health improvement program for women that you can follow in your own home, with no expensive gym memberships or special equipment.
Sign up today and you'll receive:
Weekly topics that help women make simple healthy lifestyle choices to day that will improve your heart health over time
Physical activity tips and recommendations to get you moving
Valuable nutrition advice and heart-healthy recipes you can share with family and friends
Plus, to help you stay motivated, you can view video and blog entries from the four BetterU bloggers and get inspired by their triumphs, as you reach for your heart-healthy goals one week at a time.
Join now, it's FREE!
Diet & Nutrition
Make Good Food Choices
Healthy food habits can help you reduce three risk factors for heart attack and stroke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess body weight.
Set the stage for success by:
Eating a balanced diet by following Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations from the American Heart Association
Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
Drink delicious, unsweetened 100% fruit juice instead of soda.
Enjoying a large glass of ice water, hot tea or another calorie-free beverage. Garnish with a twist of lemon or lime
Dividing the extra portions of recipes into containers to eat throughout the rest of the week.
Eating with other people. You'll eat less than if you eat alone.
Knowing your snack "triggers" and planning ahead. Fight the urge for high calorie/high-saturated-fat and trans fat foods, by grabbing pre-cut carrots, celery and other raw vegetables when you're on the run.
Shop for heart-healthy foods, certified by the American Heart Association
Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. If you smoke cigarettes (or cigars), you have a higher risk of illness and death from heart attack, stroke and other diseases. These include lung, mouth and throat cancers; chronic lung diseases and infections; congestive heart failure; and peripheral vascular disease (in the legs and arms). What's more, constant exposure to other people's tobacco smoke increases your risk, even if you don't smoke. The good news is that when you stop smoking, no matter how long or how much you've smoked, your risk of heart disease and stroke starts to drop. It's cut in half after one year without smoking, then continues to decline until it's as low as a nonsmoker's risk. So if you don't smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, love your heart and quit today. Need more motivation? Visit these American Heart Association resources for help quitting smoking.