Did you know that numbers could save your life? Sure, you probably know “911” as the ultimate life-saving number, but your health numbers are just as important to know by heart!
When it comes to measuring individual health, knowing your numbers helps you take control of your health and your life. These key numbers help you assess your risk for serious illnesses, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Unfortunately, many of us are uninformed about our health numbers and why they are so important. A recent study by Cleveland Clinic shows that many Americans worry about dying of heart disease, but are unaware of their basic risk levels. For example, nearly half (46%) of those surveyed knew their bank account balance, while just 18% could state their body mass index and only 38% knew their blood pressure.
The study suggested that, “…the majority of coronary artery disease events can be prevented by addressing treatable risk factors,” according to the chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. “That means, a little knowledge regarding your numbers could go a long way to helping keep your heart healthy and avoiding future problems.”
Employers can help their workforce take better control of their health by educating them about what factors are most important to their health and on-site health screenings are a convenient way to make sure all employees know their numbers.
So, which numbers should your employees know to keep their health on track?
High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. It can also cause severe damage to your brain, eyes, and arteries. Anyone at any age can have high blood pressure. Because many people do not have symptoms of high blood pressure, it’s important to measure it regularly.
Goal: Less than 120/80 mmHg
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that your body needs to function. However, when there's too much cholesterol in your blood, it causes build up in your arteries–which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s important to know your total cholesterol as well as both levels of it: LDL (the bad cholesterol) and HDL (the good cholesterol). Because there are no symptoms, the only way to be sure you don’t have high cholesterol is through regular health screenings.
Goal for total cholesterol: 199 mg/dL or less
Goal for HDL: more than 60 mg/dL
Goal for LDL: less than 100 mg/dL
Blood Sugar (Glucose)
Glucose is an important source of energy for your body. The average blood sugar range is between 80 and 120. If your blood sugar is too high or too low, it may be a sign of diabetes. When high or low blood sugar is not treated, diabetes can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, and other complications.
Goal: Fasting - 99 mg/dL and below | Non-fasting 139 mg/dL and below
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI measures your weight in comparison to your height. Generally, your BMI should be less than 25. A measurement of over 25 suggests you’re overweight, and 30+ indicates obesity. While BMI is not completely accurate for everyone–as it does not take muscle mass and bone density into consideration–it is still important to know if you are in the range of overweight or obese. Obesity is strongly linked to diabetes and heart disease.
Goal: less than 25 kg/m2
Measuring your waist circumference is one of the best ways to determine if your weight is affecting your health. Carrying excessive weight around the stomach area (aka the "apple" shape) is dangerous for your heart and increases your risk of heart disease. It is also associated with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Goal (females): Less than 35 inches
Goal (males): Less than 40 inches
Many diseases are “silent” killers. They can start affecting your health before you even feel like anything is wrong. If you know these important health numbers, you can make changes to reduce your risk of illnesses before they become serious. The sooner you catch any risks, the sooner you can receive treatment and get yourself back on track to a healthy lifestyle.
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