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Know Your Numbers

Knowing your target range for blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight can help you maintain a healthy heart.

Blood Sugar

People with diabetes are more likely to also suffer from heart disease. Getting your glucose levels tested will let you know if you have prediabetes or diabetes, allowing you to treat the disease.

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can lead to a higher risk of heart disease. Blood pressure readings are a double measurement of the force of the blood against arterial walls. The two measurements indicate how much pressure builds up in the arteries as the heart beats and between beats. The first, higher number is the systolic pressure, which indicates the heart's pumping force. The second, lower number is the diastolic pressure, which indicates the flexibility and clogging in the arteries.

The higher the blood pressure, the more resistance there is to blood flow. A blood pressure level with the systolic less than 120 and the diastolic less than 80 is considered optimal. If the systolic is 120 to 139 or the diastolic is 80 to 89, this is called prehypertension regardless if one of them is normal. If the systolic is 140 or higher or the diastolic is 90 or higher, this is called hypertension regardless whether one of the readings is normal or in the prehypertensive range.

Take a quiz to test what you know about blood pressure.

Blood Cholesterol

High cholesterol contributes to heart disease, so it's important to know what your cholesterol level is and to keep it low. You should have your cholesterol checked at least once every five years, starting at age 20. A cholesterol level from 200-239 is considered borderline high, and anything 240 or higher is considered high cholesterol.

If your cholesterol is too high, a diet low in saturate fats, exercise and quitting smoking are among the ways you can lower your cholesterol.

MU Health Care staff will be providing free health screenings, including cholesterol screenings, on Sat., February 16 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Macy's in Columbia. To schedule your free screening or for more information, call 882-4283.

Body Weight

Your Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height. It can serve as an indicator of whether or not you are at a healthy weight, which can affect your cardiovascular health. A target BMI for an adult is between 18.5 and 25. A BMI below 18.5 is considered underweight. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or higher indicates obesity.
To calculate your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 703. Divide that number by your height in inches squared. (Weight in pounds x 703)/(height in inches x height in inches)
Or, use a BMI calculator.

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