Know your Numbers to Watch Heart Health
It pays to know your numbers. To take a free online heart risk assessment and enter a drawing to receive one of 500 free Omron pedometers*, visit KnowYourNumbersBaltimore.com. *While supplies last.
Last year, Nadine Williams-Holmes began having chest pains, and the thought of having a heart attack sent her into a tailspin.
She had been an insulin-dependent diabetic for 13 years and taking blood pressure medication since her second pregnancy. Both diabetes and hypertension are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and she feared the worst.
?I wasn?t prepared,? says the 46-year-old nurse from Woodlawn. ?I didn?t know if I was going to see my children grow up.?
Like many Americans, Williams-Holmes knew she could be in danger but didn?t necessarily keep track of the details. Today, she carefully tracks her weight, her blood pressure, her blood sugar and her cholesterol levels.
Knowing the numbers that dictate your heart health will allow you to make smart choices today and as you age, particularly because age itself is a risk factor for coronary artery disease. Even if you think you?re heart healthy, it?s best to check with a doctor to be sure.
?It kind of boils down to this basic principle: The more risk factors you have, the more you need to know,? says William R. Herzog, M.D., head of the Division of Cardiology at Sinai Hospital.
So what numbers do you need to know? For most people, the essential numbers include total cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight or body mass index measurement. Others, particularly those with a family history of diabetes or symptoms like high blood pressure, should also have a glucose screening to test for insulin resistance.
Knowing her numbers helped Williams-Holmes lose 60 pounds. She has daily blood sugar readings just above the normal range and an outstanding blood pressure rate of 120/70.
To take care of your heart, you should know these key numbers and how they impact your overall health.Cholesterol
For patients with good health and a low risk of heart disease, a total cholesterol reading of 200 or lower is normal. If your results are good, Herzog suggests patients only be tested every three years.Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the largest risk factor for stroke, the third leading cause of death in America. Numbers to know, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, include high blood pressure ? 140/90 and over; high blood pressure for diabetics ? 130/80; and normal blood pressure ? 120/80 and under.Body Mass Index
The body mass index (BMI) formula measures weight relative to height. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, you should shoot for a score between 18.5 and 24.9. Individuals with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese, are generally 30 pounds or more overweight, and are at an even higher risk of cardiovascular disease.Bringing the Numbers in Line
If lifestyle changes alone don?t work for you, most doctors will recommend medication as the next step. Taking a pill, however, doesn?t free you from exercising and eating a healthy diet. Doctors warn that patients who abandon lifestyle changes once beginning medication will undermine the prescription?s benefits.
When even medication doesn?t work ? or in cases where a patient has chest pain, blocked arteries or a full-blown heart attack ? surgical interventions may be considered.
The Heart Center at Sinai offers a highly equipped cardiac catheterization laboratory -where doctors can look into your heart and check for blockages ? and an Emergency Chest Pain Evaluation Unit that allows physicians to diagnose and begin treatment at the earliest possible moment.
To schedule an appointment with a LifeBridge Health cardiologist or for information on a free upcoming heart screening, call 410-601-WELL (9355).
- Study Says Obese Children (kentucky's A Leader In That) May Have Quadruple The Risk Of Having High Blood Pressure As Adults
By Molly Burchett Kentucky Health News A new study shows that being obese in childhood may quadruple the risk of having high blood pressure risk as an adult, highlighting the need for Kentucky to curb its high rate of childhood obesity. Eighteen percent...
- Small Steps Can Prevent Kentucky's No. 1 Killer, Heart Disease
It is now February, which is American Heart Month and a perfect time to remind people that small steps can reduce their risk of heart disease, Kentucky's No. 1 killer. You may be surprised to hear that almost 80 percent of heart disease is preventable...
- Smoking Increases Risk Of High Blood Pressure In Children
There's yet another reason to quit smoking: parents who smoke may be raising their child's blood pressure. This week in Circulation, Swiss researchers published their results of a study looking at parents who smoked and their preschool-aged children....
- Monitoring And Managing Diabetes And High Blood Pressure
People with diabetes should have their blood pressure monitored and managed aggressively, a leading nephrologist told a group of Sinai Hospital physicians last week. George Bakris, M.D. presented on ?Updates in Treatment Goals for the Diabetic Hypertensive?...
- For Women's Heart Health, Knowledge Is Power
While breast cancer gets plenty of attention, more women die of heart attacks. The fact is more than 500,000 women die from cardiovascular disease each year, according to the American Heart Association. That is about twice as many than from all types...