Know Your Health Numbers

Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: October 18, 2014

Take control of your health by knowing your numbers. It’s a mantra individuals often hear, but what does it really mean? What should we monitor and why? Here are some helpful recommendations for monitoring three important areas:  Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Body Weight.

Blood Pressure:
Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure on your blood vessels when your heart beats (systolic) and rests (diastolic), and is an overall indicator of health and cardiovascular health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three Americans have high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure put an individual at risk for heart disease and stroke (1st and 3rdleading causes of death in US). The cost in annual direct medical costs has been reported to be $47.6 billion, with $3.5 billion in productivity lost each year as well. Usually there are no symptoms of high blood pressure, making it important to monitor regularly–at least every two years, or more often as directed by your doctor.

Normal:                         Systolic, less than 120 mmHG
(Less than 120/80)       Diastolic, less than 80 mmHG

At Risk:                         Systolic, 120 to 139 mmHG
(120/80 to 139/89)        Diastolic, 80 to 89 mmHG

High:                              Systolic, 140 mmHG or higher
(140/90 or higher)         Diastolic, 90 mmHG or higher

Cholesterol: The body needs cholesterol to function normally, but having too much can clog blood vessels, leading to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. In fact, the higher your cholesterol levels, the greater your chances for developing heart disease―the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Beginning at the age of 20, you should talk with your doctor about monitoring your cholesterol levels regularly. Individuals should maintain a total cholesterol level that measures less than 200 mg/dL by avoiding foods that are high in saturated fat as well as by exercising and maintaining a healthy weight. Additional numbers for measurement include:

HDL Cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, helps prevent buildup in arteries.

Optimal:           60 mg/dL or higher
At Risk:            Less than 40 mg/dL (men)
Less than 50 mg/dL (women)

LDL Cholesterol
, or “bad” cholesterol, causes buildup and blockage in arteries.

Optimal:               Less than 100 mg/dL
Near Optimal:      100 to 129 mg/dL
Borderline High:  130 to 159 mg/dL
High:                   160 to 189 mg/dL
Very High:           190 mg/dL or higher

are another form of fat found in the blood.

Optimal:             Less than 100 mg/dL
Normal:              Less than 150 mg/dL
Borderline High: 150 to 199 mg/dL
High:                  200 to 499 mg/dL
Very High:          500 mg/dL or higher

Body Weight: There are a number of measures to assess how healthy your weight is that go beyond simply stepping onto the scale. The first is to calculate your BMI or body mass index using your height and weight. The results are categorized as follows:

BMI below 18.5:                         Underweight
BMI between 18.5 and 24.9:      Normal
BMI between 25.0 and 29.9:      Overweight
BMI above 30.0:                        Obese

The second measure is waist size. Place a tape measure around the body at the top of the hipbone and level with the navel. Waist sizes greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men are indicators of possible health risks―heart disease and type2 diabetes, for instance.

Knowing your numbers is only the first step toward leading a healthy lifestyle. Learn more about motivating employees to change behavior habits and the steps necessary to create a successful wellness program.

Or, for more information on programs and services designed to help your company promote health and wellness, please contact us.

Disclaimer: The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of a physician. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to a physician. 

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