To keep your heart strong and healthy, you need to know 10 numbers. The first five assess your health and risk for heart disease. The second five are steps you can take every day to stay strong and live a full, healthy life. See your doctor regularly to get these tests and keep your heart strong and healthy.
Body Test Goals
- Blood Pressure: 120/80 or lower
When you have high blood pressure, your heart works harder and there is increased pressure on all the blood vessels. People with high blood pressure usually do not feel any symptoms. High blood pressure can be treated and controlled with medication, diet changes, and regular exercise.
- Cholesterol levels: 200 mg/dL or less (combined LDL and HDL)
Your body produces cholesterol. It also comes from some foods you eat. A blood screening will show both LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. Make it a goal to increase HDL and reduce LDL with a low-fat diet and regular exercise.
- Triglyceride levels: 150 mg/dL blood or lower
Triglycerides are blood fats that can increase with aging and weight gain. If your doctor tells you that your triglyceride levels are high, losing weight and making certain changes to your diet can help to lower them.
- Body Mass Index (BMI): 25 or less body mass index
BMI can help determine whether a person is at a healthy weight in relation to height. Learn more about BMI and how to calculate it from the American Heart Association.
- Waist measurement: 35 inches or less (women)
40 inches or less (men)
If you carry more fat around your waist, you are more likely to develop health problems. To measure your waist, place a tape measure loosely around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone. Be sure that the tape is snug, but not compressing your skin.
Daily Lifestyle Goals
Be proactive and make daily lifestyle choices to keep your heart strong, lower your risk of disease, and live a healthy, full life.
- 30 minutes of exercise
Walking or other moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day is proven to reduce health risks and improve heart function.
- 2,000 total calories with low fats
Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat proteins, and foods with unsaturated fats or those that are trans-fat free. Consume no more than 2 grams of trans fats and 20 grams of saturated fat per day. Foods high in trans fats include doughnuts, pastries, cookies, crackers, muffins, bacon, and pizza dough.
- 1,500 mg or less sodium (salt)
Salt can cause your body to retain excess water, leading to high blood pressure. Low-salt foods contain 140 mg or less per serving. Avoid foods high in salt, such as processed foods, smoked meats, potato chips, soy sauce, canned goods, ketchup, and fast foods.
- 6 to 8 glasses of fluid
Water is essential for keeping your body working normally so stay hydrated. You may not always feel thirsty when you are dehydrated. Drink water or eat fruits and vegetables high in water content and avoid or limit coffee, tea, alcohol, and soda with caffeine.
- 7 hours of sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep contributes to overall health, decreasing stress levels and giving you energy.
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