Achieving better heart health is a key goal for many individuals seeking to enhance their overall well-being and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The heart plays a vital role in pumping blood and delivering oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, making it essential to maintain its optimal functioning. Here are 10 numbers to know for better heart health. They will help you adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle and make informed choices about diet, exercise, and other health habits.
Significantly improve your heart health and enjoy a life filled with vitality and longevity. We will explore evidence-based strategies and essential tips to promote better heart health, empowering you to take proactive steps towards a healthier heart and a happier life. Your heart and blood vessels are a miracle of architecture and function. The average adult has 25,000 miles of blood vessels in their body, with a heart that pumps 24/7 from the head to the toes. Keeping this marvel working and maintaining heart health, requires some input on your part.
Better Heart Health Means Better Overall Health
Achieving better heart health is a crucial aspect of overall wellness, as the heart serves as the powerhouse of our body, keeping us alive and functioning. With cardiovascular diseases being a leading cause of mortality worldwide, it is essential to prioritize the health of our hearts to reduce the risk of heart-related complications and improve our quality of life. Thankfully, there are evidence-based strategies and lifestyle modifications that can significantly contribute to better heart health.
By making informed choices about our daily habits, such as diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep patterns, we can take proactive steps to protect and nurture our hearts. In this article, we will delve into the science-backed benefits of a heart-healthy lifestyle and explore practical tips to strengthen and support our most vital organ. Together, let’s embark on a journey towards a healthier heart and a more vibrant life.
Understand these Markers for Better Heart Health
There are some key markers of your heart health, which determine your risk of cardiovascular disease and other serious illnesses, according to your body and lifestyle. Understanding these heart health numbers and taking appropriate actions to maintain them in healthy range can be life saving for you.
Your heart is a vital organ of your body that pumps oxygen-rich blood to keep your body running and functioning, optimally. There are various factors that escalate your risk of heart disease. Though, you can’t control some factors (such as age, gender and family history), you can manage your risk by controlling other lifestyle factors (diet, physical activity, sleep, smoking, stress).
Know This for Better Heart Health
Heart health numbers give you a pretty good estimate of your current heart health and your risk of getting a heart attack or stroke in the next five years. Paying attention to these numbers for better heart health will help you make healthy lifestyle changes to improve your health and reduce risk of heart disease.
Grasping the significance of these numbers becomes even more critical during the initial stages of a disease when warning signs or symptoms have not yet surfaced. A blood test is needed to check your blood lipid, cholesterol and sugar levels. Blood pressure, blood sugar and weight can be monitored at home regularly with the help of blood pressure monitor, home glucose monitor and weighing scale, respectively.
Here are 10 Numbers To Know for Better Heart Health to Maintain Optimal Heart Health
- Total blood cholesterol (Ideal ≤ 200 mg/dL): Cholesterol is a type of fat that your body needs but when there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it builds plaque inside your arteries, which increases risk of heart disease and stroke.The optimal range for total cholesterol is 200 mg/dL or less. As this fatty substance doesn’t dissolve in the blood, it is transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins. There are two types: “healthy” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and “bad” Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. The healthy range for HDL cholesterol is >60 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol is <100 mg/dL. If, you have high total cholesterol, high LDL, and less HDL; you are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Triglycerides (Ideal ≤ 150 mg/dL): Triglycerides is another type of fat in the blood, which is measured under your blood lipid profile. High levels of these in the blood are linked to increased risk of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and heart disease.
- Blood pressure (Ideal ≤120/80 mmHG): Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the arteries when your heart beats and rests. It consists of two important numbers: 1) Systolic pressure measures the pressure of blood against artery walls, when the heart pumps blood out, while 2) Diastolic pressure measures the same pressure, when the heart fills with blood.
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- High blood pressure (hypertension) means that your arteries aren’t responding appropriately to the force of blood pushing against artery walls, which directly raises the risk of heart disease. Ideally your blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mmHG. Besides, increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease; high blood pressure can damage your arteries, brain and eyes.
- Fasting Blood sugar or glucose (Ideal < 90 mg/dL): Body stores glucose in the blood as its main source of energy. However, if your blood sugar is too high or too low than the optimal blood sugar range 70-130 mg/dL, you are at increased risk of diabetes. High blood sugar damages blood vessels and nerves and if left untreated it can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, and other complications.Another parameter to measure blood sugar is the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in your blood. It is often considered a better measure, as an HbA1c test gives an estimate of your average blood sugar control in the past 2 – 3 months. HbA1c score should < 7%.
- Body mass index (Ideal < 25 kg/m2): Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of your weight in relation to your height. You should aim for a BMI between 18.6-24.9, as a BMI of > 25 indicates that you are overweight and > 30 points to obesity. This extra weight strains the heart and increases risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses.
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- Waist Circumference (Ideal, Women < 35 inch, Men <45 inch): Too much weight around your waist (“apple shape”) is associated with increased risk of high blood pressure, cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and breathing problems. In fact, size of your waist is a better parameter than your BMI, to predict risk of heart disease. You can measure it easily at home by wrapping a non-elastic tape around your belly button. A waist size of > 35 inches in women and >40 inches in men increases risk of cardiovascular disease.Another even more accurate measure is waist-to-hip ratio, where you divide the narrowest part of your waist by the widest part of your hips. A ratio of > 0.85 inches for women and > 0.90 inches for men indicates central obesity with an increased risk of heart disease.
- Steps you take per day: Physically active lifestyle helps in improving almost all the heart health parameters and reduces risk of heart disease. Ideally one should walk up to 10,000 steps a day. Also, aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week.
- Hours of sleep per night: Poor sleep is associated with weight gain, as it leads to change in metabolism. Most people need a consistent 6-8 hours of good quality sleep per night for optimal functioning of their body and reduced risk of heart disease.
- CRP. C-reactive protein is a valuable indicator of inflammation in the body. inflammation precedes cardiovascular problems. The lower the CRP the better.
10 Numbers To Know for Better Heart Health
Careful monitoring of these health markers help you make healthy lifestyle changes to keep your heart health numbers in the target healthy range. These key metrics become your prime motivators in the exciting game, where you are competing with yourself and trying to improve these numbers on your own, consistently.