Numbers don’t lie: The health stats you need to know
There’s a reason that most doctor’s appointments begin with updating numbers like weight, height and blood pressure. Numbers are a good way to get a sense of how healthy you are and to see if you’re at risk for certain diseases. Here are some you should know:
- BMI: We’ve talked before about how BMI may not be a fool-proof way to see if you’re overweight or not, but it’s still a good number to be aware of. The Mayo Clinic offers an online calculator—just put in your weight and height and you’ll see if you’re in a healthy range or not.
- Blood pressure: This is actually two numbers: The top number should be less than 120 and the bottom number should be less than 80. As the numbers start getting higher, you could be at risk for prehypertension or high blood pressure.
- Waist circumference: The measurement of your waist tells you how much belly fat you have—too much and you could be at a higher risk of dying prematurely. Take some measuring tape and put it around your natural waist—women should be concerned if the measurement is more than 35 inches and men should alert their doctor if it’s more than 40 inches.
- Cholesterol: There are three numbers that make up your cholesterol—HDL (this is the “good” kind), LDL (the “bad” kind) and triglycerides. The most important is the LDL. Doctors will usually want this below 100 mg/dL.
- Resting heart rate: There is a wide range of healthy resting heart rates—anything from 60 to 100 is normal while elite athletes might have a resting pulse closer to 40 beats per minute. If yours seems to fall outside of that range, it might be a sign of something more serious going on and you should talk to your doctor.
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