Do you know your numbers? I’m not talking about how much you have in the bank, or how much you owe on your mortgage. I’m talking about the numbers that are the important indicators of your health.
You may be thinking: I feel fine. But, you could be at risk with silent symptoms of something serious. I don’t want to scare you. Even if your numbers aren’t where they need to be, just knowing them puts you in a better position to do something about it, before it becomes an issue.
Let’s start with what you need to know. According to Methodist Richardson Primary Care Physician Ming Yang Bi, M.D., the first number you need to know is your BMI or Body Mass Index. BMI is the measure of your body fat based on your height and weight. You should ask your health care provider to figure your BMI, but if you just want a quick gauge, you can use a BMI calculator.
Dr. Bi says normal for adults, both men and women, is anywhere in the range from 18.5 to 25. Over 25 is considered overweight and over 30 is considered obese.
The next numbers to know are your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol can be confusing, because it’s like an alphabet soup. Not to mention, trying to remember the good vs. the bad. But dig in. It’s not that hard. The current recommendation is that your total cholesterol be under 200. Your LDL, or your bad cholesterol, should be less than 130. Your HDL, or your good cholesterol, should be over 40 and your triglycerides should be below 150. To measure your cholesterol, you’ll need to have a blood test, preferably first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything.
Next on the list, Dr. Bi says know your blood pressure. These guidelines have recently been adjusted after a federal study found significant evidence that lowering blood pressure could be lifesaving. So now, your systolic blood pressure (the higher number) should be below 120. That’s 20 points lower than the previous acceptable range that went up to 140. Your diastolic pressure should be 80 or below. You are considered to have hypertension, or high blood pressure, with anything over 140/90.
Talk with your doctor about how best to lower your blood pressure if it’s not in range. You could need medication or maybe a change in your diet and exercise habits. Your doctor will know what’s best for you.
You’re almost done. There are just a few other numbers to know. These have to do with age. Guys, between ages 40-50, you should have your prostate checked, based on your family risk factors. And by the way, men are growing their 'staches during the month of November, or should I say Movember, to support men's health. Ladies, the new recommendation for yearly mammograms starts at age 45, again depending on family history.
For both men and women, when you turn that golden age of 50, it’s time to schedule a colonoscopy. Gulp. That would be me.
If all those numbers have your head spinning, we’re here to help. You can log on to Answer2.org to find a physician or call 214-947-6296. Remember, knowing your numbers is the first step toward managing your overall health. Don’t dread it. Just do it. I did and I found out I have some work to do, but at least, I know.
As the Director of Community and Public Relations, Jan Arrant loves to tell the stories of the great successes at Methodist Richardson Medical Center. Jan joined Methodist Richardson earlier this year, after a long career in TV journalism. She says her Mom claims she’s been telling stories her whole life. When Jan’s not at work, you’ll probably find her working in the yard, or in the kitchen. She’s foodie at heart and loves to experiment. Jan thinks every recipe needs just a little tweaking.