Do you know your numbers?

Do you know your numbers? A lot of things influence our health, but part of a healthy lifestyle is having healthy numbers for things such as cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body mass index (BMI). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), knowing your numbers and taking steps to get them within a healthy range can lower your chances of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and many other illnesses. We at Viva Medicare are here to fill you in on what those healthy numbers are.

We’ll start with cholesterol. First off, there are no symptoms for having high cholesterol, so it’s important to get tested. There are multiple risk factors, including age, sex, and heredity. There’s not too much you can do about those, but what you can do is avoid foods high in salt, watch your weight, get adequate exercise, and reduce your alcohol intake – all of which have been linked to lowering cholesterol.  Finally, it’s important to know the distinction between “good” cholesterol (HDL) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL). So what’s the healthy number? Your target for total cholesterol (LDL plus HDL) should be below 200mg/dL. High cholesterol will increase your risk for coronary heart disease.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, over 30% of adults in Alabama have high blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, increases your risk for stroke and heart disease, which are the leading causes of death in the U.S. They don’t call high blood pressure the silent killer for nothing. Many people have high blood pressure and don’t realize it. That’s why it’s vital to have your blood pressure checked at each doctor’s visit. Target number: 120 systolic (pressure in the arteries when your heart contracts), 80 diastolic (pressure in the arteries between heartbeats). This is commonly referred to as “120 over 80”

Blood sugar comes next. Persistent high blood sugar, or glucose, can eventually lead to insulin resistance, which often results in diabetes. Signs of diabetes include extreme hunger, unexplained weight loss, persistent fatigue, blurry vision, and frequent urination. If diabetes is left untreated, it could cause stroke, blindness, amputation of arms and/or legs, or kidney disease. Have your doctor check your blood sugar on a regular basis. If you’ve already been told you have diabetes, it’s still important to check your blood sugar often. A healthy glucose range is in between 80 and 120mg/dL.

Body mass index is the final statistic we’ll go over here. Body mass index, or BMI, is defined by your weight and height. It is used to find out your body fatness. A BMI of 25 or more means you’re overweight. A BMI of 30 or more means you are obese. Carrying around extra weight can cause high cholesterol, heart disease (including stroke), diabetes, and other illnesses.

Have your doctor determine your BMI. If it is 25 or more, become more active. No matter which of our Medicare Advantage plans you are on, Viva Medicare will pay up to $20 a month toward the cost of membership at a contracted fitness facility. The healthy number: less than 25. You can access a link to a free BMI calculator here.

Get checkups regularly and be sure to be aware of what your healthy numbers should be. Doing so could increase your longevity and the quality of your life.