HOUSTON — If your goal in 2021 is to stay on top of your health, it’s important to know three numbers: Blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
“In the last 20 years, we’ve become more aggressive in treating high blood pressure,” Dr. William Perkison said.
Perkison is with UT Physicians and adds that the changes are because people with hypertension – another name for high blood pressure – don’t have any symptoms of it, yet the condition can cause severe health complications, including heart disease and stroke.
A normal blood pressure level is when the systolic – the top number that measures the amount of pressure in your arteries while your heart contracts – is less than 120, and the diastolic – the number on the bottom, that measures your blood pressure between beats – is less than 80.
“Some individuals, particularly lean individuals, who do a lot of aerobic exercise, their blood pressure can be very low,” Perkison said.
What about cholesterol, the waxy, fat-like substance found in your cells? A blood test can tell you how much LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) you have. It can also measure your triglyceride levels, which shows how your body breaks down fatty acids.
A blood test will also determine your glucose levels. Perkison said a person with a fasting glucose level below 100, with no risk factors, can have it checked once a year.
“There is a condition called pre-diabetes, or sometimes called glucose intolerance, and that’s with a fasting tolerance of 100-126,” Perkison said. “Those people you want to watch a little closely.”
Perkison said, at the very least, a yearly appointment with your doctor, can help keep you on track.
“It keeps you motivated to exercise and watch what you eat because you know you are going to have your primary care provider discuss them with you,” he said.