Although high blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it can contribute to heart disease and more, it may be louder than you think.
In fact, there are a few indicators that you can explore, monitor, and manipulate to improve heart health. Each of them can let you know how good of a job you’re doing to protect yourself against heart disease, the number one killer in the country.
Checking in on blood pressure, blood sugar, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as waist circumference, can all help you establish a picture of your heart and overall health.
Blood pressure is ideally less than 120/80. These numbers reflect how hard your heart is working to pump blood and the condition of your blood vessels. Narrow, inflexible arteries cause blood pressure to rise.
A diet rich in potassium and low in sodium and alcohol can help reduce blood pressure. So can regular exercise.
LDL cholesterol should be less than 79 mg/dL. Excess LDL particles lodge inside artery walls, which contribute to inflammation and atherosclerosis.
Triglycerides should be kept lower than 150 mg/dL. These are the most common form of fat in the blood. However, they’re generally less well-known than cholesterol. They come from food to provide energy for your body.
Extra calories, alcohol, and sugar that the body can’t use are turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. High levels can boost the risk of heart attack and stroke.
You can lower triglycerides by limiting foods with unhealthy fats and sugar, eating foods that are rich in omega-3s, and avoiding alcohol.
Blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dL (fasting). High blood sugar damages blood vessel walls and causes sugar to attach to LDL. It can also boost the risk of blood clots, which contribute to heart attacks and strokes.
Avoid sugary drinks and snacks.
Waist circumference should be less than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men. You can measure it just above your belly button.
Belly fat – visceral fat – secretes hormones and other factors contributing to inflammation. Eating less processed foods may be the best way to cut down your waist size.