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SEPTEMBER HEALTH CHALLENGE - Good Health by the Numbers


Numbers are a part of everyday life: log-in IDs, passwords, telephone numbers, birthdays, etc. But do you know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers? It’s important to know these numbers as they indicate your risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke. You can help prevent future health problems if you know your numbers - monitor them regularly - and take action if they are not in normal ranges.

The chart to the right shows the desired levels for cholesterol and triglycerides. Use this chart to compare your own numbers and reach the desired values found here.


WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body’s cells and blood stream. Your body makes some of it, while the rest comes from animal products in your diet (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, eggs, butter, cheese and milk). Cholesterol in your blood is normal and necessary for a healthy body to function properly. However, problems develop when the level of cholesterol in the blood gets too high. Cholesterol and other fats don’t dissolve in the bloodstream. Special carriers called lipoproteins transfer cholesterol to the cells.

It’s important to measure not just your total cholesterol value, but the breakdown of HDL vs. LDL, as well as triglycerides and blood pressure as they play an important role in your health as well:

  • Excess amounts of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as the "bad" or "lousy" cholesterol, can clog arteries, raising the risk of heart attack and stroke.

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL), often called "good" or "healthy" cholesterol, carries bad cholesterol away from arteries. High levels of HDL cholesterol can help lower your risk of heart problems.

  • High levels of triglycerides, a form of fat made by your body, are linked to high total cholesterol - high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol values.

  • Blood pressure is a measurement of the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers. The top number, systolic pressure, represents the pressure while the heart is beating. The bottom number, diastolic pressure, represents the pressure between heart beats. A normal blood pressure reading is <120/<80.


GOOD HABITS ADD UP

You can lower your risk of future serious illness with lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise; a healthy diet low in saturated fat, cholesterol and salt; avoiding tobacco use; and limiting alcohol.

Know your numbers – talk to your health care provider about having your blood pressure checked, getting a fasting cholesterol test and then record your numbers on the wallet card that we have included for you. Your doctor will tell you how often you need to have these tests done, depending on your age, health status and family history.