If you want to achieve optimal health, you need to be aware of what your body’s trying to tell you.
How can you develop a better awareness of your body’s state of health? You can start by understanding four important numbers which can tell you a lot about your chances of developing future disease:
1. Blood pressure
If there’s one group of numbers that’s crucial to preventing future heart disease and stroke, it’s your blood pressure. Your blood pressure is actually two numbers with one number listed on top of another as in 120/80. The upper number tells you the pressure in your arteries when your heart is beating, while the second number tells you the pressure in your arteries when your heart is resting between beats. Although both numbers are important, the second number is the one used to establish the diagnosis of hypertension of high blood pressure. You should have your blood pressure checked by your family doctor every six months and even more frequently if you have a family history of heart disease or have blood pressure readings that are borderline high. Hypertension is easy to control these days with a multitude of new medications available. Make sure you know these numbers which can help you achieve your goal of optimal health.It could save your life.
2. Total cholesterol
Total cholesterol is broken down into several numbers which include LDL, HDL, and triglyceride components. While total cholesterol is a good screening tool, you should have a full lipid panel done which will identify your LDL and HDL levels. LDL is considered the “bad” form of cholesterol since it increases your risk of heart disease, while HDL is the “good” cholesterol which seems to be partially protective against heart disease. You should have your cholesterol checked every five years at a minimum and more often if you have a family history of heart disease or if you’re over the age of 45. You doctor will be able to tell you, based on your history if your cholesterol reading is too high for you. Fortunately, an elevated cholesterol level can be easily treated in most cases with lifestyle and dietary changes. In some cases, medication may be necessary.
3. Blood sugar
The prevalence of diabetes has reached record proportions. Sadly enough, it’s one of the leading causes of death when it goes undiagnosed and untreated. To complicate matters, a person can have diabetes and not even know it which makes it all the more important that you know your fasting blood sugar level. A simple blood test performed by your doctor after an overnight fast should give you an accurate blood sugar reading. A blood sugar screen should be carried out at least yearly and more frequently if you have a family history of diabetes or a history of borderline, elevated blood sugars. If your blood sugar levels are in the borderline range, simple lifestyle changes may enable you to prevent the future ravages of this disease which can affect every organ system of the body.
This one’s the easiest one to check. You can do it right at home on your own scale. Just be prepared to act if you number is too high. There are numerous charts available that show your ideal weight based on height. Consult these charts and make the necessary dietary and exercise changes to keep your weight within this ideal range. Repeated studies have shown that people who maintain a normal body weight have a lower risk of certain types of diseases including heart disease and certain types of cancer.
By knowing these four numbers and keeping them within the normal range, you’ll have taken a huge step towards preventing future health problems and developing optimal health. Next time you visit your doctor, ask him what your four numbers are and what they mean for your future health. You’ll be glad you did!