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Know your numbers

Undergo regular heart-health screenings

Heart disease is a major threat to the health of Americans. It is the leading cause of death for both men and women, with about 1 in 4 deaths overall caused by heart disease. Heart disease includes blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; and heart rhythm problems. It’s important to know whether you are at risk for these so you can take action.

People who use tobacco, have a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol, lack regular physical activity and drink alcohol excessively are more likely to develop heart disease.

Managing your risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood glucose and high BMI, plays a major role in preventing heart disease and related issues. Consider asking your doctor about the following screening tests during your next checkup or appointment.

Blood pressure

Measures the pressure put on artery walls when your heart beats and between beats.

  • 140/90 mm Hg or above is high.
  • 120/80 to 139/89 mm Hg is prehypertension.
  • Less than 120/80 mm Hg is normal.


Know the “good” (HDL), the “bad” (LDL) and the fats (triglycerides). The higher your HDL, the lower your chance of heart disease, while the more LDL and triglycerides you have, the greater your chance of heart disease.

  • Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL.
  • HDL levels at 50 mg/dL or above are ideal.
  • LDL levels should be below 130 mg/dL (even lower with certain health issues).
  • Triglycerides should be below 150.

Blood sugar

A measure of how much sugar (glucose) is in your blood. High blood sugar can signal diabetes.

  • Fasting levels below 100 mg/dL are healthy.
  • Fasting levels between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL are considered prediabetes.
  • Fasting levels of 126 mg/dL or higher typically result in a diabetes diagnosis.

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI indicates whether or not a person is overweight or obese.

Weight (in pounds) ÷ height2 (in inches) x 703 = BMI

  • 19 to 25 indicates a healthy weight.
  • 26 to 30 is overweight (excluding well-muscled individuals).
  • 31 or higher is considered obese.

Waist circumference

The number of inches around your unclothed abdomen, just above the hipbone, can indicate your risk for some diseases like diabetes.

  • A measurement of less than 35 inches is desirable for a woman and less than 40 inches is desirable for a man.