What do all these numbers mean?
This month, hearts can be found everywhere—on cards, balloons, t-shirts, cupcakes, and wrapping paper. Now’s the perfect opportunity to learn some basic “heart facts”—and find out what those numbers really mean.
• Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the arteries when the heart beats and rests. The recommended range is less than 130/80 mm Hg.
High cholesterol indicates an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. A lipoprotein profile gives information about total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and HDL (“good”) cholesterol, as well as triglycerides (blood fats).
Q: What should my total blood cholesterol level be?
A: Less than 200 mg/dL = Desirable (lower risk)
200 to 239 mg/dL = Borderline high (higher risk)
240 mg/dL and above = High blood cholesterol (more than twice the risk as desirable level)
Q: What should my HDL cholesterol level be?
A: HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is “good” cholesterol because it seems to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Unlike other cholesterol levels, the higher the HDL, the better.
HDL Cholesterol Levels: Less than 40 mg/dL for men = Low HDL (higher risk)
Less than 50 mg/dL for women = Low HDL (higher risk)
40 to 59 mg/dL = The higher, the better
60 mg/dL and above = High HDL (lower risk)
Q: What should my LDL cholesterol level be?
A: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the main carrier of harmful cholesterol. The Higher the LDL, the higher the risk of heart disease and stroke.
LDL Cholesterol Levels: Less than 70 mg/dL = Optional goal if you’re at very high risk of a heart attack or death from heart attack.
Less than 100 mg/dL = Optimal for people with stable heart disease or diabetes
100 to 129 mg/dL = Near or above optimal
130 to 159 mg/dL = Borderline high
160 to 189 mg/dL = High
190 mg/dL and above = Very High
Q: What should my triglyceride level be?
A: Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body. They’re also a major energy source. Some studies indicate that people with above-normal fasting triglyceride levels (150 mg/ dL or higher) have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Persistently high triglyceride levels can also be seen with diabetes.
Less than 150 mg/dL = Normal
150 to 199 mg/dL = Borderline High
200 to 499 mg/dL = High
500 mg/dL and above = Very High
Glucose tests measure the amount of sugar in the blood. Fasting and non-fasting tests are used to determine glucose levels.
Q: What should my glucose (blood sugar) level be?
A: Glucose Levels:
HbA1c (glycosylated hemoglobin) less than 7%
On a Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPGT), less than 100 mg/dL
On an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), less than 140mg/dL
It’s never too early, or too late, to monitor these numbers. Talk to your healthcare professional about how you can take charge of your heart health.
For further information about this month’s health tip, please visit nyackhospital.org