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Article originally published January 29, 2021.

When it comes to heart disease, there are some risk factors we can’t control, including our age, gender and family history. There are also many aspects of heart health that we can control – and it all starts with knowing our numbers.

There are plenty of numbers you probably know without thinking twice, like your social security number, street address, phone number, wedding anniversary and a whole slew of birthdays. But how easily can you list your health numbers, and why do they matter?

Your blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI and blood sugar all play important roles when it comes to heart health, and elevated values can equal a serious increase in risk. If you don’t know your critical numbers, talk to your doctor: it may mean you’re due for a check-up or that it’s time to discuss a health plan with your provider. Either way, it’s a step in the right direction – one towards a healthier heart.

Know Your Numbers

For most adults, ideal numbers include:

  • Blood pressure – 120/80 mm Hg or lower

Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the arteries as your heart beats and rests.

  • Cholesterol – Your total cholesterol is made up of good and bad cholesterol; talk with your doctor about your specific results and what they mean for your heart health.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that cannot be dissolved in the blood. Too much bad cholesterol can clog and block arteries, increasing your risk for heart attack and stroke.

  • BMI (body mass index) – 18.6-24.9, it’s also recommended that women maintain a waistline of 35 inches or less, and men 40 inches or less.

Your BMI is a “quick reference” to gauge whether or not you are at a healthy weight. Ideal body weight varies by age, gender, build and a variety of other factors.

  • Blood sugar (glucose) – If you’re not diabetic, an ideal fasting glucose is 100 mg/dL or lower. If you do have diabetes, talk to your healthcare provider about what glucose and A1C levels are ideal for you.

Glucose is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood.

Elective Cardiovascular Screening

Did you know that FMC offers a variety of elective screenings? These tests provide a more comprehensive look at your cardiovascular health. Available screenings include:

  • Limited echocardiogram – an ultrasound of the heart that can be used to evaluate cardiac function.
  • Carotid duplex – an ultrasound used to look for blockages and determine how well blood is flowing through the carotid artery.
  • Aortic duplex – an ultrasound used to evaluate blood flow and look for blockages or bulging within the aortic artery.
  • Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) – a test that compares the blood pressure at the ankle to the blood pressure at the upper arm in order to detect peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Once the results have been read by one of FMC’s cardiovascular providers, a copy of the findings will be mailed to your home, and a notification can be sent to any physician of your choosing.

To learn more about elective cardiovascular screenings, call 740-687-8170. To schedule your elective screenings, call 740-687-8666.

The Importance of Primary Care

Primary care is at the heart of wellness. In many cases, visiting your primary care provider is the first step to finding answers to your questions and solutions to your concerns. No matter your age, you should plan to see your primary care provider once a year for a routine wellness exam. Your provider will instruct you on additional screenings that may be necessary based on your age, gender and family history. 

Source: American Heart Association