Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to preventing serious illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. Knowing the following numbers will help you take action to live a longer and healthier life.
Blood pressure – High blood pressure is referred to as the “silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms. If left untreated, it can lead to heart disease, heart attack or stroke. As many as one in three adults have high blood pressure. Blood pressure is recorded in two numbers: systolic is the top number and diastolic is the bottom number. A normal reading should be less than 120 systolic and 80 diastolic (120/80) for an adult older than age 20.
Body mass index (BMI) – This is used to determine whether a person is overweight or obese based on weight and height. While the measurement is not perfect and should not be used for people with very low body fat or very high muscle mass, it is still accurate for most people. Normal BMI is below 25.
Blood sugar (glucose) – A blood sugar test measures the amount of glucose in your blood, which can determine if you have diabetes. Your fasting blood sugar (taken when you have not eaten for 8 to 12 hours) should be below 100 mg/dL.
Waist circumference – Too much abdominal fat increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. A healthy waist circumference should be no more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.
To learn your numbers and be a champion of your own health, attend “Men’s Health: A Family Affair,” a free event sponsored by the Norton Healthcare Centers for Prevention & Wellness this Sunday, Sept. 29, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. Along with fun family activities, medical professionals will be on hand to provide free health screenings and referrals. We can help you know your numbers!
–Sandra E. Brooks, MD, MBA
System Vice President , Research and Prevention, Norton Healthcare