Here are the important numbers you should know as part of your mission to prevent developing heart disease or having a stroke.

How well do you know what your numbers should be?

  • Blood pressure
  • Lipid profile (which includes cholesterol)
  • BMI (body mass index)
  • Fasting glucose

Why should you know what your numbers should be?

“Because these numbers are markers for heart attack, stroke, early death and disability,” says Richard Honaker, MD, Chief Medical Advisor at Your Doctors Online, with 30+ years’ experience as a primary care physician.

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

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.

Lipid Profile

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)

BMI should be 24 or under. Twenty-five to 29 is overweight, and 30 and over is obese.

Fj.toloza992, CC BY-SA

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.

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

Dr. Honaker has been recognized by D Magazine as one of the Best Doctors in Dallas several times and a Texas Super Doctor by Texas Weekly. He’s also a recipient of the Physician Recognition Award from the American Medical Association multiple times. Your Doctors Online
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.