Know your numbers

February is American Heart Month in which organizations across the country come together to save lives and beat heart disease. St. Elizabeth Healthcare is committed to reducing heart-related deaths in Northern Kentucky by 25 percent before 2025.

One of the most important health and wellness choices you can make is to be a partner in your own healthcare. The era of the physician being fully responsible for our healthcare is past. We now have “some skin in the game” and are key players in the disease prevention portion of our own optimal functioning.   Here are key numbers to know and to keep track of:

 

Vital Digits Healthy At Risk High Risk
Total Cholesterol Level Less than 200 201-239 240 and above
Lousy Cholesterol (LDL) Less than 100 101-159 160 and above
Healthy Cholesterol (HDL)Women:Men: 60 or higher60 or higher 51-5941-59 50 or less40 or less
Triglyceride Level Less than 150 151-199 200 and above
Fasting Blood Sugar 80-100 101-125 126 and above
Blood Pressure:Systolic (Top number)Diastolic (Bottom number) Less than 120Less than 80 121-13981-89 140 or higher90 or higher

 

Typically, the physician brings these numbers to our attention when they are elevated and then suggests lifestyle changes and/or medications to bring the numbers back to “normal.”

As partners in our health care, it is our job to track these numbers and look for trends such as gradually increasing cholesterol levels or blood pressure readings. The time for intervention is before the numbers get to the “At Risk” levels and before damage is done. If your numbers are gradually increasing at each lab test, point this out to your physician and initiate lifestyle changes to bring them down. If they are gradually decreasing, keep up the good work.

What can you do? Ask.

Ask for copies of your lab work and B/P readings at each physician visit. Many doctors now use the Electronic Medical Record and can give you an access code to view your own labs from your personal computer.

Maintain a healthy diet, keep fit, practice stress reduction techniques and stay current with prevention screening. Ask your physician what screenings you should be having. Prevention is much easier than intervention. Know your numbers.