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Know your numbers, protect your heart
Know your numbers, protect your heart
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – When it comes to heart health, what you don’t know could hurt you. February is American Heart Month, and doctors with Mountain States Health Alliance are reminding patients that one of the best things you can do for your heart is to know your numbers.
“Keeping track of blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar is an important component of overall heart health,” said Dr. Robert McQueen, a cardiologist with Mountain States Medical Group Cardiology. “Both men and women should begin monitoring these key numbers by the age of 30.” “Coronary artery disease does not produce any symptoms until the condition is already in an advanced stage, posing a serious threat to a person’s health. Knowing your numbers can help you catch and treat heart disease in its early stages, which could save your life,” McQueen said.
Recommendations for healthy heart numbers:
A good blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. Anything greater than 140/90 is considered hypertension.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called "bad" cholesterol) is optimally below 130. If you have more than one risk factor (diabetes or known heart disease), the goal should be less than 100.
HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called "good" cholesterol) should be at 50 or higher.
Normal triglyceride levels are anything below 150 mg/dl.
A healthy waist measurement should be less than 35 inches for women or less than 40 inches for men.
Fasting blood sugar should be less than 100; a higher number could signal early diabetes. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease.
Preventive measures can be taken to lessen the risk of heart disease. Work with your primary care physician to keep your numbers on track, and follow these additional tips to keep your heart healthy:
Do not smoke or be exposed to continuous secondhand smoke.
Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can lead to conditions that increase your chances of heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
The MSHA HeartCoach offers comprehensive cardiovascular screenings for $45. The screening includes total cholesterol, including both HDL (good) and LDL (bad); triglycerides and glucose levels; blood pressure; height; weight; waist circumference; and vascular studies, including a carotid artery scan (to identify potential stroke risk), aorta scan (to identify potential abdominal aorta aneurysm risk) and ankle brachial index (to evaluate circulation in the extremities).
According to Rachel Forbush, a registered nurse with the MSHA Health Screening Center, many patients who come in for screenings choose to follow up with additional medical care and instruction from their primary care providers.
“It’s not that they are necessarily going to end up in the cath lab, but maybe they need medication management for cholesterol, high blood pressure or blood sugars that are out of range,” Forbush said. To find out when the HeartCoach will offer screenings near you or to schedule an appointment at the MSHA Health Screening Center, call 1-800-888-5551.
About Mountain States Health Alliance
Mountain States Health Alliance, a not-for-profit health care organization based in Johnson City, Tenn., operates a family of hospitals serving a 29-county, four-state region (Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina). MSHA offers a large tertiary hospital, several community hospitals, two critical access hospitals, rehabilitation, a children’s hospital, a behavioral health hospital, home care and hospice services as well as a comprehensive medical management corporation. Its 13,500 team members, associated physicians and volunteers are committed to its mission of bringing loving care to health care. For more information, visit
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