You cannot see damage occurring to your heart and blood vessels due to high blood pressure nor can you see an artery being narrowed by cholesterol or weakened by rising blood sugar levels.
However, monitoring these 6 numbers, can help you keep a tab on your heart health. Most importantly, catching changes in these numbers as soon as they happen can help you take steps to lessen your heart risks.
1. Blood pressure
A reading of 140/90 mm Hg or more is considered high, and if it's between 120/80 and 139/89, you may still be at risk and should be taking steps to prevent the development of hypertension. High blood pressure greatly increases heart disease and stroke.
Your total cholesterol should be below 200 mg/dL; LDL less than 100mg/dL and HDL greater than 50 mg/dL. Having high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL(good) cholesterol may contribute to plaque formation in your arteries, which can lead to heart disease heart attack and stroke.
Triglyceride levels should be less than 150mg/dL. Having high triglycerides combined with high LDL, speeds up the build-up of plaque in your blood vessels.
4. Blood sugar
A fasting blood sugar level less than 100mg/dL and A1C below 5.6% is considered normal. High blood sugar increases your risk of diabetes, which damages arteries. In fact, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are among the most harmful risk factors for heart disease.
5. Body mass index (BMI)
A BMI equal to or greater than 25 is overweight and greater than or equal to 30 is considered obese. If you are an Asian Indian, your health may be at risk with a lower BMI - the normal BMI being in the range of 18-22.9 kg/m2.
BMI is a measure of your weight in proportion to your height. It can indicate whether you are overweight or obese—being so, increases your risk for heart disease and type2 diabetes.
6. Waist size
Having a waist measurement —102 cm or more in men and 88 cm or more in women is an important, independent risk factor for disease. However, the cut-off measurement for Asian Indians are 90cm for men and 80 cm for women.
Regardless of your overall weight, having excess belly fat or having abdominal obesity can put you at risk for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, inflammation and a higher risk of heart disease.