Did you know that over 44 million women in the United States have heart disease? While some experience noticeable symptoms, many do not. As a woman and vascular surgeon, keeping myself and other women aware and knowledgeable about their heart is important to me. When it comes to your health, there are five crucial numbers to know about your heart.

Numbers to Know by Heart

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)

HDL is the number you get when you have a blood draw. This number checks the good cholesterol in your blood.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Above 60: very good
  • 40-59: good
  • Below 40: talk to your doctor to determine how you can improve this number and your heart health

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is an important number to keep track of on a regular basis because it indicates good heart health throughout your body. When you get your blood pressure checked you get two numbers. For example, 140/90. This number on the top is systolic and the number on the bottom is diastolic.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Systolic (top number): should be 140 or lower; if diabetic this number should be 130
  • Diastolic (bottom number): should be 90 or lower

Hemoglobin A1c/Blood Sugar

Hemoglobin A1c is a number that tells you your blood sugar level. This averages the amount of sugar that’s attached to your red blood cells. It’s a great number to test for diabetes.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • 5.5%-6.5%: normal hemoglobin A1c
  • 6.5%: you are at the borderline for developing prediabetes
  • Less than 7%: this is your goal if you have been diagnosed with diabetes

Exercise Time & Frequency

I recommend exercising 30 minutes a day at least three days a week. If you get out and walk three times a week, go for 30 minutes strong. Walk to the point where you feel like you’re stressing yourself a little bit and then you can relax a little bit, but just keep going. You want that steady 30 minutes.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • 30 minutes at least three days a week

Body Mass Index (BMI)

This is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight. BMI is also used to determine if you are underweight, normal weight or overweight.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Under 18.5: very underweight and possibly malnourished
  • 18.5-24.9: healthy weight range
  • 25.0-29.9: overweight

Take Control of Your Heart Health

You hold the key to your heart health. Be aware of your numbers, and take steps to maintain and improve them. This includes having regular check-ups, eating a healthy diet and getting the exercise you need. Following these steps improves your overall health as well ask your heart health.

Sara Hargreaves, MD

Sara Hargreaves, MD

Health Expert

Sara Hargreaves, MD, is a vascular surgeon at Bryan Heart Vascular Surgery.

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