Keeping your heart and body in a healthy state starts with tracking your five essential health numbers—blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, waist-to-height ratio and nicotine use.
Get a physical so you know your numbers and can begin charting. Make small changes recommended by your doctor that can influence those numbers and get them in the ideal range.
Small changes can make a big difference with the key numbers, says Lori Mosca, MD, Director of the Columbia Center for Heart Disease Prevention in New York City. "For every point you raise your HDL – that's the 'good' cholesterol – you reduce your risk of coronary disease by 2%. So just raising HDL by five points cuts your heart disease risk by 10%," she says.
5 essential health numbers to know and the ideal mark:
- Blood pressure – less than 140/90
- LDL and HDL cholesterol – total less than 200
- Blood sugar – less than 100
- Waist-to-height ratio – less than .5
- Nicotine use – none
5 tips to help you hit your mark on your essential health numbers:
- Eat a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Stay active; stretch and exercise every day
- Get plenty of sleep; 8 hours a night is ideal
- Don’t smoke
- Laugh with others; engage in social interaction and do things you love