According to Jo Ann Pegues, RD, MPA, of the US Administration on Aging, there are three important and easily detected numbers that every adult should know. They are your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood glucose (sugar). Those three measures can provide a snapshot of your current health, and possibly allow you to prevent the onset of serious disease.
Blood Pressure – “ Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of your body in vessels called arteries. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. Each time the heart beats (about 60-70 times a minute at rest), it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is at its highest when the heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When the heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure. Blood pressure changes during the day. It is lowest as you sleep and rises when you get up. It also can rise when you are excited, nervous, or active.
Still, for most of your waking hours, your blood pressure stays pretty much the same when you are sitting or standing still. That level should be lower than 120/80. When the level stays high, 140/90 or higher, you have high blood pressure.” (See: "What is High Blood Pressure?" from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
Blood cholesterol – “ Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body and that your body needs to function normally. It is present in cell walls or membranes everywhere in the body, including the brain, nerves, muscle, skin, liver, intestines, and heart. Your body uses cholesterol to produce many hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids that help to digest fat. It takes only a small amount of cholesterol in the blood to meet these needs. If you have too much cholesterol in your bloodstream, the excess is deposited in arteries, including the coronary arteries, where it contributes to the narrowing and blockages that cause the signs and symptoms of heart disease.” (See: "What is High Blood Cholesterol?" from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
Blood glucose (sugar)– “Sugar is the basic fuel for the cells in the body, and insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can cause two problems:
Right away, your cells may be starved for energy.
Over time, high blood glucose levels may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves or heart.
Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugars to build up in your blood.” (See "What is Diabetes?" on the CDC's Diabetes Public Health Resource page).
Here's How the “Numbers” Measure Up:
Disease Risks for High Measures
Less than 120/80
More than 139/89
Blood Cholesterol (2)
Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL LDL less than 100 mg/dL
Total between 200-239 mg/dL LDL between 130-159 mg/dL
Total above 240 mg/dL LDL more than 160 mg/dL
80-99 mg/dL after fasting for 8 hours
100-125 mg/dL after fasting for 8 hours
More than 126 mg/dL after fasting for 8 hours
Diabetes-which can lead to:
I'd like to keep track of these important numbers:
Here's a sample log you can print out and take to your next office visit to help you keep track of your numbers. Download printable version.
(Note Total, HDL, LDL, Trig)
(Note whether fasting or not fasting)
My doctor's advice
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