Are you doing everything you can to keep your heart healthy? Keeping heart disease in check is more than eating the right foods and getting enough exercise. It’s easy to leave the details to your doctor but there are some numbers you need to monitor to ensure your heart condition is under control. Whether your goal is heart disease prevention, or you are managing existing heart disease, optimizing your heart health requires you to take an active role.
1. LDL Cholesterol
It’s easy to get confused about which type of cholesterol is the “good” and which is “bad.” Low-density, or LDL, cholesterol is a leading cause of coronary heart disease. Too much of this waxy substance in your bloodstream causes the buildup of plaque in your arteries. If you have trouble reading your lab reports, remember the LDL is the number you want to keep low. Improve your LDL numbers by eating more good fats like olive oil and nuts and avoiding foods that are high in saturated fats. Regular exercise can also help keep your cholesterol numbers in line.
2. Waist Size
Keeping a trim waistline comes easy for some people. For those with an apple shape, getting trim is more challenging. If you accumulate more body fat around your waist, you’re putting your heart health at risk. It’s caused by visceral fat that wraps around organs and interferes with their normal function. This includes heart disease. In women, a waist size over 35 inches is considered unhealthy while men shouldn’t have a waist over 40 inches. How to get rid of inches around your middle? Cut simple carbohydrates from your diet, do regular cardiovascular and strength-training exercise, and get plenty of sleep.
If you don’t know your body mass index, or BMI, you are not alone. It’s one of the essential numbers to know for heart health. Your BMI is the ratio of body fat to your height. The higher this number is, the greater your risk of developing heart disease. The best way to reduce your BMI is with a healthy weight loss plan. That includes eating a nutritious diet and getting plenty of exercise.
4. Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is often called “the silent killer.” It often shows no symptoms until it has already caused damage to your heart and arteries. A normal blood pressure reading is under 120/80 mmHg. Your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet, reducing salt intake, quitting smoking, and stress reduction. Medications are also available that help keep blood pressure under control.
When you receive a report from your lab work, there’s usually a separate listing for triglycerides under the cholesterol reading. Your triglycerides reading could have a bigger impact on your heart health than you think. In addition to heart disease, high levels are also associated with pancreatitis, type 2 diabetes, and other heart-related conditions. If your numbers are high, your doctor will prescribe medication to help lower them. Natural ways to bring down triglycerides numbers include eating complex carbs rather than simple carbs, avoiding sugar, eliminating bad fats from your diet, and eating omega-3 rich foods like fish and nuts.
6. Fasting Glucose Levels
Diabetes, insulin resistance, and heart disease are all related. The body’s inability to make insulin or to use it as intended results in the build-up of glucose in the blood. High numbers result in damage to blood vessels and nerves. The best treatment depends on your specific condition. You will need to monitor your glucose levels and possibly take oral medications. Your cardiovascular doctor does a lot to keep your heart at its healthiest. There are also many steps you can take to monitor your health and know when it’s time to make changes. TrustCare Heart Clinic offers heart screenings starting at $25. Schedule a screening today and take control of your heart health.