Chances are you know your current weight and you have a good idea of your blood pressure and total cholesterol numbers too. Most folks of a certain age do.
After all every time you visit the doctor, no matter whether it’s for a hangnail or a stomachache, they put you on the scale and wrap your arm in blood pressure cuff before you get to tell them why you’re even there. And after the age of 40 your doc is likely to start keeping an eye on your cholesterol, too.
But the truth is while those three numbers are the ones we all tend to focus on they aren’t the only ones that are important to your health. To make sure you’ve got all your bases covered you and your doctor should be keeping an eye on these other four key numbers too…
1. Glucose, A1c :
Your first line of defense against diabetes is knowing your blood glucose and A1c numbers (a snapshot of your blood sugar levels over a longer period of time). Your body uses glucose for energy to keep all your systems running. But when your numbers rise too high your body can’t process it fast enough. Chronically high blood glucose levels , or prediabetes, can lead to full blown diabetes if you don’t reign your numbers in. Make sure you’re checking your glucose and A1c numbers annually, and more often if you’re at risk.
- Normal glucose: < 100 mg/dL
- Normal A1c: < 5.7%, and ideally < 4.5%
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood stream. Your body taps into triglycerides for energy. But a problem can arise when you have more of these fats than you’re using. Unused triglycerides build-up in your blood stream potentially leading to hardened arteries and a higher risk of stroke and heart disease. High triglycerides can also be a red flag for other serious health conditions lurking below the surface.
- Normal triglycerides: < 150 mg/dL or < 1.7 mmol/L
- Borderline: 150-199 mg/dL or 1.8-2.2 mmol/L
- High: 200+ mg/dL or 2.3+ mmol/L
3. Vitamin D:
It’s starting to seems like we can hardly make it through a week without learning something new about the importance of vitamin D. Once considered little more than a “feel good” vitamin, research has revealed vitamin D is essential to our overall health and wellness. From Alzheimer’s to depression and from bone health to cancer prevention, the list of diseases the sunshine vitamin may slow or even prevent just keeps growing. Make sure you’ve got enough stocked up for it to do its job!
- Normal vitamin D: > 30 ng/mL
4. HDL and LDL:
At first glance knowing your HDL and LDL may seem like the same thing as knowing your total cholesterol. But the fact is the individual numbers that make up your total cholesterol are just as important as their sum. HDL is “good” cholesterol. You actually want this number to be higher. HDL works within the body to remove LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, from your blood stream. So the more HDL you have, the better. Still struggling to remember which is which? Think about it this way: you want your HDL to be High and your LDL to be Low.
- Healthy HDL: no lower than 41, ideally about 55
- Healthy LDL: < 100
Weight, blood pressure and total cholesterol are still important numbers to keep track of. But don’t be fooled into thinking they are the only important ones.