Knowing your BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels can help reduce your risk for heart disease.
For many, the beginning of a new year is an opportunity to set goals. Seeing your primary care doctor – and making your health a priority – are two of the most important goals you can have.
And while you can’t change your age or your family history, there are certain risk factors for heart disease that are within your control. By keeping your numbers within a healthy range, you can do a lot to improve your health. Here are some steps you can take.
- Keep your BMI (body mass index) between 18.5 and 24.9. Forty minutes of moderate exercise three or four times a week can help. Maintain a healthy diet. Three to five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day. Choosing whole grains rather than refined grains. Using healthy oils like olive oil. And eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Keep your blood pressure under control. The American Heart Association recently updated its high blood pressure guidelines. This recognizes the fact that damage caused by high blood pressure can begin at lower blood pressures than previously thought.
- Manage your cholesterol through diet, by consuming high-fiber foods, eating lots of fruit and vegetables, and eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or tuna. If diet doesn’t work, your doctor may recommend lipid-lowering medications.
- Control your blood sugar level. It is possible to prevent prediabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes. Eliminating sweet soda and processed foods, as well as saturated fat and trans fat can help.
- If you smoke, quit.
- If you drink alcohol, limit your intake. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers some guidelines.
And the good news about the risk factors you can’t control – just knowing about them can help you do something to work on the risk factors you can control.