5 Health Numbers to Know for a Healthy Heart
Sep 27, 2018
Every second, your heart is pumping blood through your body to keep you alive and well. Since you usually can’t feel your heart beating as you move throughout your day, it’s easy to forget just how hard it works for you. But like with every part of our body, a healthy heart matters. Knowing the most important factors in heart health can help you support yours for many years to come.
Here are the top health numbers that matter when it comes to a healthy, thriving heart.
1. Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force your heart exerts as it pumps blood through the walls of your blood vessels. Your blood pressure is mostly measured by three things:
- Heartbeat rate
- Strength of that heartbeat
- How much blood passes through the vessels
Blood pressure is often known as the “silent killer” because you usually can’t feel it if it’s too high. While it goes up and down all the time depending on what you’re doing, persistently high blood pressure is a big risk factor for heart disease.
Below are the numbers to know for blood pressure. The top number is the pressure when your heart beats, while the bottom number is the pressure between beats.
- Healthiest: under 120/80 mmHg
- Elevated: top number between 120-129 mmHg and bottom below 80 mmHg
- High stage 1: top 130-139 or bottom between 80-89 mmHg
- High stage 2: top number 140 mmHg or higher or bottom number 90 mmHg or higher
Nutrients important for blood pressure maintenance include vitamin D, vitamin B6, calcium, and l-taurine.
Cholesterol is a fat that gets a bad rap. We mostly think of it as completely bad, but your body actually needs cholesterol to be healthy. It’s an imbalance of cholesterol that becomes a risk factor for stroke or heart attack.
High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol; low density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered “bad” because it contributes to artery blockage.
Total cholesterol equals the reading of good and bad cholesterol.
For adults, healthy cholesterol numbers for heart health are:
- Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol 60 mg/dL or higher
- LDL cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL
Nutrients helpful for proper cholesterol metabolism include:
- Vitamin B6
- Pantothenic acid
Another type of fat in your blood is your triglycerides. High triglycerides may raise your risk of coronary artery disease.
A good triglyceride number is below 150.
4. Body Mass Index
Maintaining a healthy weight is also important for a healthy ticker, as it can reduce your risk of heart disease. Although there are a variety of factors that go into determining optimal weight, and it can look different for everyone, looking at someone’s body mass index (BMI) can be helpful.
You can figure your BMI with this formula: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703.
A healthy BMI is typically between 18.5 and 24.9.
5. Daily Exercise
Getting regular exercise is great for your heart health! General guidelines recommend most of us get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Aiming for this number gets and keeps your heart (and body) fit and healthy.
Overall, what’s most important is moving more and sitting less throughout the day as much as you can.
Other Heart Health Tips
These are the big factors you can measure with numbers when it comes to your heart health. But remember that these healthy numbers often come naturally from good lifestyle choices. So make sure you’re also:
- Saying NO to smoking (this is one of the best choices you can make for your heart)
- Eating a varied diet with many colorful vegetables and fruits, healthy fats and high-quality proteins
- Limiting alcohol and caffeine
- Reducing stress where you can and making time for things and people you enjoy
- Managing diabetes, if you have it
The Bottom Line
Give your heart the love it deserves by caring for your body and mind to keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, BMI and overall health numbers in good ranges. At every moment, your heart is supporting you in good health—so don’t forget to return the favor!