ANR Health: Health Numbers

Health Numbers

Do You Know Your 4 Critical Health Indicator Numbers?


To be a Better You, you need to know your numbers!
Doctors gather critical numbers, often before they see us.  Routinely a nurse takes height, weight, blood pressure and temperature to prep the chart for the doctor.  These numbers as well as others from lab  procedures indicate the state of our health without the doctor laying eyes on us.  Before paying a co-pay, gather numbers yourself  and examine the implications.  
Track your numbers on a personal chart to examine if your health practices are making a difference.    If a particular number isn't an issue for you such as temperature, don't track it as diligently. 
The numbers you know are indicating a problem, should be watched and monitored on a regular basis.  For example if high blood pressure is an issue, purchase an inexpensive blood pressure monitor or use one at a neighborhood grocery store or pharmacy.  Indicate the date and time of day your blood pressure is taken.   Take it at different times of the day to see how exercise, eating, resting, etc. are effecting your blood pressure.  One client noticed after taking his blood pressure 3 times a day and noting what he ate, that his blood pressure whose significantly after a spaghetti dinner.  When he saw his doctor, they had data and a starting point for discussing how to adjust his blood pressure.  This saved him an initial visit and co-pay when only preliminaries are discussed and put him right into an action phase with his doctor.


Weight:  This chart gives general weight category guidelines in pounds.   Open your eyes and honestly look at where your numbers land.  A doctor doesn't need to tell you what you can see for yourself.  Now you are prepared for a planning meeting with your doctor.  Talk about how to gain weight, lose weight or maintain weight as you grow older, so you can be a BETTER YOU!

Body Mass Indicator:  (BMI) is a calculation using a person's weight and height  to screen the person's  potential  for weight problems due to body fat.  Excess weight and body fat can put one at risk for diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  BMI is not a diagnostic tool, only a screening tool to see if further tests and evaluation are necessary.  But walk into the doctor's office knowing this number.  Do not be surprised; be prepared with questions about the implications of your number,  so you can be a BETTER YOU!
BMI calculation results fall into one of four weight categories; underweight, normal, overweight and obese.  BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness for most people. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that BMI correlates to direct measures of body fat, such as underwater weighing. BMI can be considered an alternative for direct measures of body fat. Further tests and evaluations might be indicated based on the BMI.  For example, a person may have a high BMI but due to their muscle mass, they may have a very low percentage of body fat.  Generally, however, if a person falls into the category of obese, they more than likely have excess fat and weight. 
Determine your BMI using this calculator.  Now take an honest look at the chart.

BMI
Weight Status
Below 18.5
Underweight
18.5 – 24.9
Normal
25.0 – 29.9
Overweight
30.0 and Above
Obese
You are ready for an honest discussion with your doctor.

Blood Pressure:  Is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps out blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage the body in many ways.
Blood pressure tends to rise with age. Following a healthy lifestyle helps some people delay or prevent this rise in blood pressure.
About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure (HBP). HBP itself usually has no symptoms. You can have it for years without knowing it, hence the title "silent killer". During this time it can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of your body. This is why knowing your blood pressure numbers is important, even when you're feeling fine.
Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. It doesn't refer to being tense, nervous or hyperactive. You can be a calm, relaxed person and still have high blood pressure.
Blood pressure numbers:  Include systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Typically the numbers are written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic, such as 120/80 .
A single elevated blood pressure reading doesn't mean you have high blood pressure, but it's a sign that further observation is required. Ask your doctor how often to check it or have it checked. Certain diseases, such as kidney disease, can cause high blood pressure. In 90 to 95 percent of cases, the cause of high blood pressure is unknown.

The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.  
The National Institute of Health publishes this chart:
Categories for Blood Pressure Levels in Adults
Category
Systolic
(top number)

Diastolic
(bottom number)
Normal
Less than 120
And
Less than 80
Prehypertension
120–139
Or
80–89
High blood pressure



     Stage 1
140–159
Or
90–99
     Stage 2
160 or higher
Or
100 or higher
The ranges in the table apply to most adults (aged 18 and older) who don't have short term serious illnesses.
 Cholesterol:  Your blood cholesterol level has a lot to do with your chances of getting heart disease. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease.  Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the United States. 
When there is too much cholesterol (a fat-like substance) in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, this buildup causes "hardening of the arteries" so that arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked. The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and if enough blood and oxygen cannot reach your heart, you may suffer chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, the result is a heart attack.
High blood cholesterol:  Itself does not cause symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. It is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are because lowering cholesterol levels that are too high lessens the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease, even if you already have it. Cholesterol lowering is important for everyone--younger, middle age, and older adults; women and men; and people with or without heart disease.
Everyone age 20 and older should have their cholesterol measured at least once every 5 years. It is best to have a blood test called a "lipoprotein profile" to find out your cholesterol numbers. This blood test is done after a 9- to 12-hour fast and gives information about your:
  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol--the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries
  • HDL (good) cholesterol--helps keep cholesterol from building up in the arteries
  • Triglycerides--another form of fat in your blood
If it is not possible to get a lipoprotein profile done, knowing your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol can give you a general idea about your cholesterol levels. If your total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL* or more or if your HDL is less than 40 mg/dL, you will need to have a lipoprotein profile done. See how your cholesterol numbers compare to the tables below.
Total Cholesterol Level
Category
Less than 200 mg/dL
Desirable
200-239 mg/dL
Borderline High
240 mg/dL and above
High
* Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams (mg) of cholesterol per deciliter (dL) of blood.

LDL Cholesterol Level
LDL-Cholesterol Category
Less than 100 mg/dL
Optimal
100-129 mg/dL
Near optimal/above optimal
130-159 mg/dL
Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL
High
190 mg/dL and above
Very high
HDL (good) cholesterol:  Protects against heart disease, so for HDL, higher numbers are better. A level less than 40 mg/dL is low and is considered a major risk factor because it increases your risk for developing heart disease. HDL levels of 60 mg/dL or more help to lower your risk for heart disease.
Triglycerides:  Can also raise heart disease risk. Levels that are borderline high (150-199 mg/dL) or high (200 mg/dL or more) may need treatment in some people.
Cholesterol information from: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/wyntk.htm

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