Over the last week or so, I've given you links to some good health-assessment Web sites. Now I'm going to share with you where your numbers should be. It's important to know your numbers.
You know how much money is in your checking account, don’t you? Your savings account? Your 401K ? Your mortgage? Your net worth (total assets minus total liabilities)?
Knowing your health numbers is a lot like knowing your financial numbers. Both are important.
Great health is pretty simple. Don’t smoke; don’t be fat; eat a diet of lots of fruits and veggies with good proteins, good carbs, and good fats; and be active all day long.
Sometimes people who do all of these good and healthful things, yet still have funky blood pressure or lipids. Then it is time for medical therapy because maintaining good health numbers can keep you healthy for a long time.
I am not trying to give everyone a medical diagnosis to perpetuate the medical-industrial complex. I am trying to define optimal health. So here are your target health numbers for great health, even if you do everything else right.
- Your body mass index should be between 20 and 27.9. If your BMI is above 35 or even near 40, your weight carries the same risk as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
- Your blood pressure should be near 120/80. If it is 130/85, you should start to think about adopting a healthier diet and exercise plan (more exercise, less alcohol, less salt, less prepared, frozen or fast food), and if above 140/90, it is time to consider seeing your primary care provider for some medical treatment.
- Your fasting blood sugar should be below 100. Diabetes starts at 125 and prediabetes is the area between 100 and 125. Trust me, you don’t want to be diabetic. Next week I’ll blog about what you should do if you are prediabetic.
- Your total cholesterol should be below 200.
- Your HDL cholesterol should be above 40 if you are a man and above 50 if you are a women. No exceptions here — low HDLs are a huge marker of increased cardiac risk.
- Your LDL cholesterol should vary by your risk. Go to heartdecision.org to get your cardiac risk scores. If you are low risk, then your LDL goal is less than 160; if moderate risk, your goal is less than 130; if high risk, your goal is less than 100; and if very high risk, your goal is less than 70.
- Your triglycerides should be less than 150 by national guidelines. I think this number is way too high and would like them to be below 100.
So by now, you probably want to know where I keep my own numbers; do I live up to my own standards? Well, I try (aside from eating ice cream out the carton). I have a BMI of 24.5, a BP around 120/80 on medication for the past 25 years; a fasting blood sugar of 88; and on low dose statin, a total cholesterol of 180, an HDL of 55, an LDL of 113, and triglycerides of 60.
||The following is feedback received for this blog:|
Dr. Bob -- Thanks for writing these articles -- very helpful to someone like me trying to keep healthy. I just got my blood numbers back and I'm very frustrated. I try to do what you say with eating and exercise, yet my total cholesterol is still high. I have a total of 211, but my LDL is 124 and my HDL is 69. Can HDL be too high? Is my high HDL, which I thought was a good thing, making my total too high? BTW, my BMI is about 25 and I'm otherwise healthy.