With all the advances in medicine, it can be confusing trying to figure out exactly what you need when you go to the doctor’s office. There are essentially 4 Numbers You Need to Know to stay healthy and help prevent disease. Here they are…

1. Know Your BMI - BMI stands for body-mass index. It’s a way to determine the amount of body fat and lean body mass you have. How is it measured? Well, it’s determined by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in meters Because it includes both height and weight, it’s one of the best measures to determine if you are overweight. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do the math and convert to the metric system…our website lets you plug your numbers in, and will give you your BMI. A normal BMI is considered 18.5 – 24.9; overweight is 25.0- 29.9, and obese is a BMI >30.

The reason why this number is so important is that a higher BMI correlates with getting sick as well as dying from obesity-related illnesses. Aim for BMI below 25 and you’ll reduce your chances of developing disease and dying prematurely.

2. Know Your Cholesterol -
By now, most Americans know that it’s important to reduce their cholesterol. Cholesterol is influenced by several factors, including diet and genetics. Be sure to get a cholesterol test once a year – the test actually has several components…it includes total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (“BAD”) HDL (“GOOD”) and triglycerides. Cholesterol ranging between 200-240 is considered normal, but the goal is to keep it below 200.

Your LDL goal actually depends on how many other factors put you at risk for heart disease and stroke; your doctor can tell you your individual goal. As for HDL – the higher the better—preferably above 60.

3. Know Your Blood Pressure -
Life can be stressful, and it’s important to keep your blood pressure under control. High blood pressure can lead to stroke and heart disease….The top number—systolic pressure – is the pressure in the arteries while your heart is beating. Diastolic – the lower number – stands for the pressure between heart beats. People debate which number is more important – well, they are both important!

Nearly one in 4 Americans has high blood pressure – and nearly a third don’t even know it!!! So it is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly. Aim for less than 120/80. Once it gets to 140/90, you have high blood pressure and need to take steps to lower it.

4. Know your Fasting Blood Sugar -
Diabetes is quickly becoming an epidemic in the US. Much of this is due to our expanding waist lines…we’re going from Generation X to Generation XL. A normal blood sugar – done when fasting - is less than 110 mg/dl. The goal is to have it less 90.

You need to watch what you eat, cut down on excess sugar and simple carbohydrates, as well as make it a priority to be active for at least 30 minutes a day Become an informed patient and take an active role in your health.