Aug 21, 2011

The lifesaving numbers you need to know

Dr. Oz reveals the 5 numbers every person needs to know, imparting critical medical insights that can help you save your own life.

1. Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can cause different medical problems including cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and stroke.

  • Your blood pressure can be tested in several places like your doctor’s office or at a pharmacy. Learn to test your own blood pressure and invest in a device you can use at home.
  • Get in the habit of testing your blood pressure once a month. Make sure each time to test it at the same point in the day, when you’re most relaxed. For accuracy, take 3 readings and figure out the average number between them.
  • Pay attention to the top number – the systolic pressure, which indicates the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood – the best lifelong measurement for hypertension. A systolic reading above 140 is considered too high and warrants seeing your doctor.
 2. Waist Size

If you’re sporting a large waistline, your risk of dying prematurely is nearly double. The reason is because belly fat, often fondly referred to as a spare tire or a beer gut – sends out a toxic stream of chemicals impacting the whole body.

  • Take your waist size once each month with a measuring tape.
  • Measure at your natural waistline, which is above your hipbone and below the ribcage – not where your belt lies or around your hips. Be mindful of your posture and suck in your stomach since the fat you’re measuring is deep inside the belly.
  • A waist size over 35 inches in women and over 40 inches in men greatly increases the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and more.
  • The ideal waist size for women is 32 ½ inches and 35 inches for men.
 3. Weight

Stepping on a scale and finding out your body weight is one of the easiest numbers to calculate and an excellent indicator of your overall health. Over weight can cause a numbers of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gout, hypertension, high blood pressure and cancer.

  • The average woman of approximately 5’4” tall should weight less than 175 pounds.
  • The average man of about 5’9” tall should weigh less than 196.
  • Taller folks can add 5 pounds per inch; if you’re shorter, subtract 5 pounds per inch.
  • Write your weight down monthly. Studies show that by tracking this number, you’ll do a better job keeping it down.
4. Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

  • To test your cholesterol levels, you need to see a doctor or someone in the health care field who can administer a simple blood test.
  • You don’t need to memorize your total cholesterol number, which can be misleading. Instead, memorize the 2 forms it’s carried in: HDL and LDL. Your HDL, the healthy cholesterol, needs to be 50 or better; your LDL, the unhealthy cholesterol, should be under 100. If your numbers do not fall in this range, discuss strategies for lowering your LDL and increasing your HDL with a health care professional.
5. Fasting Blood Sugar

Fasting blood sugar (FBS) measures your risk for diabetes, a chronic disease that can lead to blindness, cardiac disease, kidney failure, nerve problems and an impaired immune system.

  • Your fasting blood sugar number must be measured after an 8-hour fast. Fasting is a key since ingesting food—say, a banana an hour beforehand—would raise blood sugar levels and could create a false pre-diabetic or diabetic reading. Your FBS can be determined with a simple blood test or a finger stick test.
  • A fasting blood sugar number above 100 is considered pre-diabetic; treatment measures should be discussed with a physician.