Dietitians and doctors have been warning the public about heart disease for decades. Research studies have proven and disproven and then proven again the effectiveness of various warnings.
Thus, the public has become confused, immune, and apathetic with health alerts that point to cardiac conditions. In short, they ask, “Is there anything that really works to avoid a heart attack?”
There are acceptable ranges of blood and body results that indicate the risks of heart disease. The medical community has been shouting these statistics from medical charts and billboards since the 1970s. Here is what is important:
• Low-density lipoprotein, otherwise known as LDL cholesterol, is a major cause of heart disease and blockage in the arteries. Remember this LDL abbreviation as low-down and dirty cholesterol. The results of this blood test should be less than 100 mg/dl.
• The amount of weight that your body frame carries is also important in determining heart disease. Although not considered entirely accurate, the Body Mass Index, BMI, is still a valid indicator. In general, the BMI calculates body fat using height and weight. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk of stroke, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Recommended BMI ranges between 18.5 and 24.9.
• Researchers have recognized two different body shapes related to heart disease. An “apple” shape where fat sits around the midsection of the body is more perilous than a “pear” shape where fat sits around your hips. A healthy waist circumference is no more than half the measurement of your height.
• On a lab report, TRIG represents triglycerides. This amount reveals the amount of fat in the blood. High levels are linked with heart disease, especially in women. TRIG numbers should be below 150 mg/dl.
• Hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure, increases the risk of heart disease and other ailments. Traditionally 120 over 80 is ideal. Certain conditions make 140 over 90 acceptable.
• The number one cause of death with people dealing with diabetes is heart disease. When the body can’t make or use insulin well, glucose builds up in the blood. Elevated blood sugar damages blood vessels, nerves and organs. Blood glucose after at least 8 hours of not eating or drinking anything but water should be less than 100 mg/dl.
• Relatively new research reveals that the ratio of waist-to-hip (WHR) measurements can target those with a high risk of heart disease. Comparing hip circumference at the widest part of the buttocks and the waist circumference at the smallest part of the midsection calculates the WHR. By dividing the waist number by the hip measurement, the possibility of cardiac complications can be determined. A healthy WHR for women is less than .80 and less than .90 for men. These measurements are more accurate when done without clothes interfering.
To minimize the risk of heart disease, the first step is an awareness of the possibility. Your medical care team keeps an individual checklist of your results in your chart. The more levels that are out of range, the higher your risk of heart disease.
Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.