What are the numbers to know?
These are the numbers everyone should learn about themselves:
- Blood sugar levels
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol level
- Body mass index (BMI)
It is important to check your numbers regularly even if you don’t feel sick. Many of the diseases affecting Bahamians are silent killers that affect you before you feel anything wrong. That’s why knowing your numbers today is much better than waiting to see the doctor after you’re sick.
What is Blood Sugar?
Everyone’s blood has some sugar in it because your body needs sugar for energy. When you eat your body breaks food down into sugar and sends it into your bloodstream. Then your pancreas makes insulin to help get the sugar from the blood into the cells for energy. Too much sugar in your blood can mean that you have diabetes.
Knowing your blood sugar can tell you if you have prediabetes or diabetes; and can tell you how to prevent diabetes or prevent complications if you have diabetes.
Diabetes symptoms may go unnoticed until one or more of the complications related to the disease occur. If you are overweight or have a family history of diabetes and experience any symptoms of high blood sugar such as excessive thirst, hunger, fatigue, excessive urination or numbness and tingling in hands or feet – you should discuss having a blood sugar test with your doctor.
Understanding your Blood Sugar Test?
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1C) estimates your average glucose over the past 3 months and can be used to diagnosis diabetes and to help guide management if you have diabetes.
A normal fasting blood sugar is less than 99 mg/dl and a normal HbA1C <5.9%
A fasting blood sugar of 100-125 or HBA1C 5.9 to 6.4 indicates Prediabetes
A fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dl or more; or HbA1c> 6.5 means you have Diabetes
For most patients with Diabetes your goal fasting blood sugar should be maintained between 80-130 mg/dl and your target HbA1c should be <7%
Ask your doctor:
Is my blood sugar high?
What can I do to maintain a healthy blood sugar?
High blood Pressure
Why do you need to know about your blood pressure?
Because it can warn you if you are at high risk of having heart disease– even if you don’t feel that anything is wrong. The good news is that it is easy to lower blood pressure with medications, exercise, eating more fresh foods and less fatty or salty foods, having regular screenings and following your doctor’s instructions. If you smoke–quitting smoking will have an immediate and positive impact on your total health and often lowers your blood pressure as well.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the measurement of how hard your heart works to pump blood through your body. Your blood pressure test results will have 2 numbers. The larger number (systolic) is the pressure while your heart is pumping ; The smaller number (diastolic) is the amount of pressure between beats of your heart. A healthy test result for most people is to have a top number under 130 and a bottom number under 80 (130/80)
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat like substance found in your blood. Cholesterol comes from two sources: (1) fiid and (2) your body, which actually makes cholesterol.The good news is that not all cholesterol is bad, while too much bad cholesterol open brackets LDL and triglycerides close brackets can clog your blood vessels and arteries which can lead to heart disease and stroke . The good cholesterol HDL can actually clean away the bad cholesterol .
get your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked regularly.
Ask your doctor for a cholesterol test and discuss how often you should be tested. The cholesterol test will show you your good HDL, bad LDL, triglyceride and total cholesterol. If your levels of LDL and or triglycerides are high, your doctor will help you make changes to lower your cholesterol on may start you on a medication called a statin.
Body Mass Index ( BMI)
BMI is a measurement system that uses height and weight to determine the best weight and proportion for a person. Being overweight puts you at risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, vision problems, depression, knee or ankle troubles or more. The best way to maintain a healthy weight is to develop healthy eating and exercise habits. Set short-term realistic goals for better eating habits and exercise. Don’t forget to keep a record of what you eat and the exercises you have done. Keeping track of what you are eating and how much or little you are exercising will make you more aware of your behaviors. For most adults a BMI in the 19 to 24 range is normal, and a BMI of 25 to 30 means you are overweight and a BMI> 30 means you are obese.
By Dr Ariane Davis-Simmons | Family Medicine Center