At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we are committed to helping those in the communities we serve lower their risk of heart disease during February – recognized nationally as American Heart Month – and all year long.

One of the best ways to be proactive when it comes to your health is to be informed. Below are some of the critical numbers everyone should know to assess their risk of heart disease.

Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure is made up of two numbers: systolic pressure, which is the pressure of blood against artery walls as the heart pumps out, and diastolic pressure, which is the pressure between heartbeats as the heart fills with blood. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or less.

BMI

Your Body Mass Index measures weight and height to determine if an individual is overweight. Individuals who are overweight can experience excess strain on the heart, higher blood pressure and lower levels of good cholesterol numbers, all of which increase the risk of heart disease. The maximum BMI you should have to keep your risk low is 25 kg/m2.

Waist Circumference

Although BMI is good to know, waist size is a big predictor of heart disease risk. That risk increases with a waist size for women of 35 inches or more and a waist size for men of 40 inches or more. Not only does heart disease risk increase, so does your risk for diabetes, metabolic problems, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Fasting Glucose

Fasting blood sugar numbers should be less than 100 mg/dL. Those with prediabetes will have a fasting blood sugar between 100 and 125 mg/dL. Above that, you may have diabetes. Those with diabetes should rely on HbA1c levels and not spot glucose checks alone to watch for heart health risks, and should always develop a management plan with the help of their doctor.

Cholesterol

As many are now aware, there is both good and bad cholesterol. When it comes to heart health, a total cholesterol of 200 mg/dl or lower is considered optimal. Total cholesterol is determined by three numbers. HDL, or “good” cholesterol, should be 50 mg/dl or higher for women and 40 mg/dl for men. LDL cholesterol should be 100 or lower, depending on other known health conditions. Triglycerides of less than 150 mg/dl is what you should aim to have.

Ask the Nurse

If you don’t know your numbers, we’re here to help. By learning what your numbers are, you will be better prepared to have a conversation with your doctor about your risks for heart disease and your overall heart health. At our Ask the Nurse clinics, held currently in Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Killingworth, Madison, North Haven, Woodbridge and West Haven, a registered nurse (RN) can check your numbers for you and work with you to set health goals and determine what questions you should ask of your regular healthcare provider.

There is no cost for this service and appointments are not required. For a full list of our Ask the Nurse locations including dates and times, visit our program book: Program book spring_summer 2019

The only numbers that cannot be checked at an Ask the Nurse clinic are cholesterol and A1c, but VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers full cholesterol lipid profile and blood sugar screenings with immediate results and nurse counseling for only $35. Individuals must fast beforehand. Appointments are held at our Guilford and Hamden offices and must be scheduled in advance by calling 203.458.4284 or our toll free helpline 1.866.474.5230.