The sad fact is people more often know their ring size than health exam numbers that could help prevent death from heart disease and stroke. How well do you know your numbers?

Here is a handy list of all the numbers or readings that various body and blood tests should be, for good heart health, disease and stroke prevention.

The prevention of heart disease and stroke begins with knowing what the numbers should be for various tests.

The information in this article comes from the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center’s Web site.

Blood pressure

  • This should be 120/80 Hg or lower.
  • For diabetics or those with kidney disease, it should be 130/80 or lower.
  • Never take blood pressure after just “running around” doing chores or being busy. Sit quietly for 10 minutes first. Blood pressure readings at doctors’ offices tend to be higher than from home tests due to anxiety.


LDL (bad) cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL for typical people, and less than 70 for those with heart disease or at high risk for heart disease. Being at risk for heart disease also means you’re at risk for stroke.

Fasting triglycerides should be under 150 mg/dL.

HDL (good) cholesterol should be at a minimum, 40 mg/dL, for men, and 50 for women. Total cholesterol divided by HDL should be 3.0 or less.

C-reactive protein (high sensitivity) should be less than 1.0 mg/dL. This test is not part of the routine physical and is given only when the physician believes there’s a need for it.


BMI (body mass index) should be 24 or under. Twenty-five to 30 is overweight, and over 30 is obese.

A person who is very muscular, such as a bodybuilder, may have a BMI over 25, since BMI is based on a height and weight calculation.

Thus, a 5-9 bodybuilder may weigh 200 pounds, but have only 8 percent body fat, yet his BMI number will be in the overweight range.

Fasting sugar

Fasting blood glucose should be 99 mg/dL or less. If it’s 100-125 mg/dL, this may signal prediabetes.

The word “may” is used because more than one reading over a six-month period is required for a more definitive conclusion. Plus, a doctor may order additional tests such as a glucose tolerance test, to get a more definitive assessment.

Also, just one night of disrupted sleep can cause the following morning’s fasting glucose reading to be in the “prediabetic” range.


Hemoglobin A1c should be 6.5 mg/dL or less. At 7.0 or greater means diabetic.

Ejection fraction should be over 55 percent. Under 40 percent means a person is at risk for heart failure.

Knowing these numbers is part of your arsenal to prevent heart disease and stroke.