February is the month when we celebrate love, so it is only fitting that we also focus on matters of the heart. The American Heart Association urges all of us to be aware of four important numbers that can give us insight into our risk of heart disease and stroke. Those personal health numbers include Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Blood Sugar, and Body Mass Index (BMI). To determine your risk of heart disease, use this simple risk calculator from the Mayo Clinic.
Here are more details on each of these important numbers from the American Heart Association.
HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.
High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockage.
Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
BODY MASS INDEX
BMI (body mass index) is a calculation that estimates how much body fat a person has based on their weight and height. When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton.