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Know Your Health Numbers


Understanding and monitoring certain key health numbers is important for maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases. Here are some important health numbers to know:

1.       Blood Pressure

2.       Blood Sugar

3.       Cholesterol

4.       Anthropometric Measurements

 

Blood Pressure

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps it throughout the circulatory system. It is typically expressed as two values:


1. Systolic Pressure: This is the higher of the two values and represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats or contracts to push blood into the circulation. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).


2. Diastolic Pressure: This is the lower value and represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between beats. It is also measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

Blood pressure is an essential physiological parameter because it helps to circulate oxygen and nutrients to the body's tissues and organs. However, it needs to be within a certain range to ensure proper functioning and minimize health risks.


Normal blood pressure for most adults is typically considered to be around 120/80 mm Hg, where 120 represents the systolic pressure and 80 represents the diastolic pressure. Blood pressure can fluctuate throughout the day and may vary among individuals based on factors such as age, genetics, diet, physical activity, and overall health.


High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition where the force of blood against the artery walls is consistently too high. It is a significant risk factor for various cardiovascular problems, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. High blood pressure is often referred to as the "silent killer" because it may not cause noticeable symptoms until it reaches severe levels.


Low blood pressure, known as hypotension, occurs when the blood pressure is consistently lower than the normal range. While low blood pressure is less common than high blood pressure, it can also lead to symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, and fatigue. In some cases, it may indicate an underlying medical condition.


Monitoring blood pressure is essential for assessing cardiovascular health and identifying potential issues early. If you have concerns about your blood pressure, it's important to consult a healthcare provider. Lifestyle modifications, medication, and other interventions may be recommended to manage and control blood pressure within a healthy range.

 

How to take your blood pressure.

You can measure your blood pressure at home using a sphygmomanometer, which is commonly known as a blood pressure monitor. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to take blood pressure:



Items You'll Need:

1. A digital or manual blood pressure monitor (sphygmomanometer).

2. A stethoscope (for manual monitors).

3. A quiet, comfortable place to sit.

4. Your arm should be relaxed and supported at heart level.

5. Pen and paper to record the readings.


Steps to Take Blood Pressure:

1. Prepare:

   - Sit down in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the ground. Roll up or remove clothing from your upper arm so the cuff can be placed around your bare skin.

   - Rest for at least 5 minutes before taking the measurement. Avoid caffeine or tobacco for at least 30 minutes before measuring.

2. Position the Cuff:

   - If you're using an upper-arm cuff, position it so the bottom edge is about one inch above your elbow. Ensure the cuff is snug but not too tight. You should be able to fit two fingers under it.

3. Identify Your Pulse:

   - If you're using a manual monitor, locate your pulse in your wrist (radial artery) or the crook of your elbow (brachial artery) with a stethoscope. This is usually done by placing the stethoscope's diaphragm or bell over the artery.

   - If you're using a digital monitor, this step isn't necessary as the device will automatically detect your pulse.

4. Inflate the Cuff:

   - For digital monitors, press the "start" or "inflate" button.

   - For manual monitors, inflate the cuff by squeezing the bulb until the pressure is about 30 mm Hg above your expected systolic pressure.

5. Deflate the Cuff Slowly:

   - For digital monitors, the device will automatically deflate and display your blood pressure readings.

   - For manual monitors, slowly release the air from the cuff while listening for the first thumping sound (systolic pressure). Note this reading.

6. Continue Deflating:

- Continue deflating the cuff until the thumping sounds stop (diastolic pressure). Note this reading as well.

7. Record the Reading:

   - Write down your systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements, along with the date and time.

8. Repeat for Accuracy:

   - For the most accurate reading, take two or three measurements a few minutes apart, and then calculate the average.

9. Maintain a Record:

   - Keep a record of your blood pressure measurements over time to monitor changes and share with your healthcare provider during check-ups.


It's important to follow these steps carefully to ensure accurate blood pressure readings. If you have any concerns about your blood pressure or the accuracy of your measurements, consult a healthcare professional. Additionally, always follow your healthcare provider's advice regarding blood pressure monitoring and management.

 

What do my results mean?

The commonly recognized categories and associated risks are as follows:

Normal Blood Pressure

   Systolic BP (top number) < 120 mm Hg

   Diastolic BP (bottom number) < 80 mm Hg

   Risk: Individuals in this range have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and other health issues related to high blood pressure.

Elevated Blood Pressure

   Systolic BP 120-129 mm Hg

   Diastolic BP < 80 mm Hg

   Risk: Individuals with elevated blood pressure are at an increased risk of developing hypertension if preventive measures are not taken. Lifestyle modifications are often recommended at this stage to prevent progression.

Stage 1 Hypertension

   Systolic BP 130-139 mm Hg

   Diastolic BP 80-89 mm Hg

   Risk: People in this category have an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. Lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication may be recommended.

Stage 2 Hypertension

   - Systolic BP ≥ 140 mm Hg

   - Diastolic BP ≥ 90 mm Hg

   Risk: This stage carries a higher risk of serious health complications, including heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and more. Medication and significant lifestyle changes are often required to manage blood pressure effectively.

   Systolic BP > 180 mm Hg

   Diastolic BP > 120 mm Hg

   Risk: A hypertensive crisis is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. It can lead to severe complications such as organ damage, heart attack, stroke, or even death.

American Heart Association. “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings.” American Heart Association, 30 May 2023, www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings.


The risks of high blood pressure can also be influenced by other factors such as age, gender, family history, lifestyle choices (diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption), and the presence of other medical conditions (e.g., diabetes).


Regular blood pressure monitoring and early intervention are crucial for managing hypertension and reducing associated risks. Managing blood pressure through medication, lifestyle modifications, and regular medical check-ups can significantly reduce the risks associated with hypertension. Always consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice and treatment options based on your specific blood pressure readings and health profile.

 

Blood Sugar

What is blood sugar?

Blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, refers to the concentration of glucose (a type of sugar) present in the bloodstream. Glucose is a vital source of energy for the body's cells and is the primary energy source for the brain. The level of blood sugar is regulated by hormones, primarily insulin and glucagon, which are produced by the pancreas.


When you consume carbohydrates from food, your digestive system breaks them down into glucose, which then enters the bloodstream. The body needs to maintain blood sugar levels within a narrow range to ensure that there is a steady supply of energy to cells.


Two key terms associated with blood sugar levels are:

1. Hyperglycemia: This occurs when blood sugar levels are abnormally high. It is a characteristic feature of diabetes, a chronic condition where the body's ability to regulate blood sugar is impaired. Prolonged hyperglycemia can lead to various health complications.

2. Hypoglycemia: This occurs when blood sugar levels are abnormally low. It can result from not eating enough, excessive physical activity, or taking too much insulin or certain diabetes medications. Hypoglycemia can cause symptoms such as shakiness, sweating, confusion, and, in severe cases, loss of consciousness.

 

How to take your blood sugar.

Blood sugar tests can be taken in several ways, depending on the purpose of the test and the specific circumstances. Here are some common methods for measuring blood sugar levels:


Fasting Blood Sugar Test (Fasting Plasma Glucose, FPG):

   - This test is typically done in the morning after an overnight fast, usually for at least 8 hours. A blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm.

   - It measures your blood sugar level after an extended period without eating to evaluate your fasting glucose level.

Random Blood Sugar Test:

   - This test can be done at any time of the day and does not require fasting. A blood sample is taken from a vein or a fingerstick.

   - It provides a snapshot of your blood sugar level at that moment.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT):

   - This test is often used to diagnose gestational diabetes during pregnancy. You start by fasting overnight, and then you drink a glucose solution.

   - Blood samples are taken at intervals over several hours to track how your body processes glucose.

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Test:

   - This test measures the average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. It does not require fasting, and it can be done at any time of the day. A blood sample is taken from a vein or a fingerstick.

   - It is commonly used to monitor long-term glucose control in individuals with diabetes.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM):

   - CGM involves wearing a small sensor under the skin that continuously measures glucose levels in the interstitial fluid. It provides real-time data on blood sugar trends, helping individuals with diabetes make timely adjustments to their treatment.

Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose (SMBG):

   - People with diabetes often use portable glucose meters to check their blood sugar levels multiple times a day. A drop of blood is obtained by pricking the fingertip, and it is placed on a test strip inserted into the meter.

   - SMBG helps individuals with diabetes manage their condition by making immediate decisions about diet, medication, or insulin.


The specific test your healthcare provider recommends will depend on your medical history, the purpose of the test, and whether you have diabetes or are at risk for it. It's essential to follow your healthcare provider's instructions for preparation and timing when undergoing blood sugar testing to ensure accurate results.


  1. Fasting Blood Sugar (FBS):

  • Normal: Less than 100 mg/dL

  • Prediabetes: 100-125 mg/dL

  • Diabetes: 126 mg/dL and above

  1. Random Blood Sugar (RBS) or Postprandial Blood Sugar (PPBS):

  • Normal: Less than 140 mg/dL

  • Prediabetes: 140-199 mg/dL

  • Diabetes: 200 mg/dL and above

  1. A1C (Glycated Hemoglobin):

  • Normal: Less than 5.7%

  • Prediabetes: 5.7% to 6.4%

  • Diabetes: 6.5% and above


What do my results mean?

Blood sugar levels play a crucial role in determining an individual's risk of various health conditions, particularly when it comes to diabetes and related complications. Here's a breakdown of the relationship between blood sugar levels and the associated risks:


Diabetes Risk:

   - Elevated blood sugar levels, particularly fasting blood sugar and HbA1c levels, are used to diagnose diabetes.

   - Prediabetes: People with blood sugar levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes have prediabetes. This condition increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

   - Type 2 Diabetes: Consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition in which the body's cells become resistant to insulin (insulin resistance), and the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Cardiovascular Risk: High blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke. Elevated blood sugar can lead to damage to blood vessels, inflammation, and the buildup of plaque in arteries (atherosclerosis).

Kidney Disease: Prolonged high blood sugar levels can damage the small blood vessels in the kidneys, leading to kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy).

Eye Complications: Diabetes-related high blood sugar levels can lead to eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy, which can cause vision problems and even blindness.

Nerve Damage (Neuropathy): High blood sugar levels can damage nerves throughout the body, leading to neuropathy, which can cause pain, numbness, and other sensory problems.

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): People with diabetes and poorly controlled blood sugar levels are at a higher risk of developing peripheral artery disease, which can lead to reduced blood flow to the limbs and complications such as foot ulcers and amputations.

Infections and Slow Wound Healing: Elevated blood sugar levels can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections. Additionally, wounds may heal more slowly in people with uncontrolled diabetes.

Complications during Pregnancy: High blood sugar levels in pregnant women can lead to gestational diabetes, which can pose risks to both the mother and the baby.


It's important to note that maintaining healthy blood sugar levels through lifestyle modifications, medication (for those with diabetes), and regular medical monitoring can help reduce the risk of these complications. For individuals at risk of diabetes or those already diagnosed, working with healthcare providers to manage blood sugar levels is crucial in preventing or delaying the onset of complications and improving overall health and quality of life.

 

Cholesterol

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in the cells of your body and in the food you eat. It is an essential component of cell membranes and plays a vital role in various physiological processes. Cholesterol is synthesized in the body, primarily in the liver, but it can also be obtained through dietary sources.


Cholesterol is necessary for several important functions, including:

1. Cell Membrane Structure: Cholesterol helps maintain the fluidity and stability of cell membranes, ensuring they function properly.

2. Hormone Production: Cholesterol is a precursor for the synthesis of steroid hormones, including sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) and hormones produced by the adrenal glands (cortisol and aldosterone).

3. Vitamin D Synthesis: Cholesterol is a precursor for the production of vitamin D in the skin when exposed to sunlight.

4. Bile Acid Production: Cholesterol is used to create bile acids, which are essential for the digestion and absorption of dietary fats in the intestines.


Cholesterol is transported in the bloodstream within lipoproteins, which are complex particles consisting of cholesterol, triglycerides, and proteins. The two primary types of lipoproteins involved in cholesterol transport are:

·         Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL): Often referred to as "bad" cholesterol, LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to the cells in the body. When there is an excess of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, it can lead to the accumulation of cholesterol in artery walls, contributing to atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of the arteries).

·         High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL): Known as "good" cholesterol, HDL helps remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and transport it back to the liver for excretion. Higher levels of HDL are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

 

How do you take your cholesterol?

To have your cholesterol levels tested, you typically need to visit a healthcare provider or a laboratory. Cholesterol testing is a common part of routine health check-ups and cardiovascular risk assessments.



  1. Total Cholesterol:

  • Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL

  • Borderline high: 200-239 mg/dL

  • High: 240 mg/dL and above

  1. LDL Cholesterol:

  • Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL

  • Near optimal/above optimal: 100-129 mg/dL

  • Borderline high: 130-159 mg/dL

  • High: 160-189 mg/dL

  • Very high: 190 mg/dL and above

  1. HDL Cholesterol:

  • Poor: Less than 40 mg/dL (for men), less than 50 mg/dL (for women)

  • Better: 40-59 mg/dL

  • Excellent: 60 mg/dL and above

  1. Triglycerides:

  • Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL

  • Borderline high: 150-199 mg/dL

  • High: 200-499 mg/dL

  • Very high: 500 mg/dL and above


What do my results mean?

Cholesterol levels are closely associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke. Understanding your cholesterol levels and their implications can help you assess your risk and take appropriate steps to maintain heart health.


·         High Total Cholesterol: Elevated total cholesterol levels, especially when driven by high LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), can increase your risk of atherosclerosis (the buildup of fatty deposits in arteries), which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

·         High LDL Cholesterol: High levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis. LDL cholesterol can deposit plaque in the walls of arteries, narrowing them and reducing blood flow.

·         Low HDL Cholesterol: Low levels of HDL cholesterol are a risk factor for heart disease. HDL helps remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream, and higher levels are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

·         High Triglycerides: Elevated triglyceride levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. High triglycerides can be a sign of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase heart disease risk.


It's important to note that individual cardiovascular risk varies based on factors like age, family history, smoking status, blood pressure, and other medical conditions. Your healthcare provider will consider all of these factors when assessing your risk and developing a personalized plan for prevention and management.


If your cholesterol levels are outside the desirable range or if you have other risk factors for heart disease, your healthcare provider may recommend lifestyle changes, such as dietary modifications, increased physical activity, and possibly medication, to lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of cardiovascular events. Regular monitoring and follow-up with your healthcare provider are essential for maintaining heart health.

 

Anthropometrics

Anthropometrics is the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body. It involves the systematic measurement of various aspects of the human body, such as height, weight, limb lengths, girths, and other physical characteristics.


BMI

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a numerical value that provides an estimate of an individual's body fat based on their weight and height. It is a commonly used tool for assessing whether a person has a healthy weight relative to their height.


How to calculate my BMI?

The easiest way to calculate your BMI, is just use one of the many free online BMI calculators.

Underweight

Below 18.5

Normal

18.5–24.9

Overweight

25.0–29.9

Obesity

30.0 and Above

 

What do my results mean?

A high Body Mass Index (BMI) is often associated with various health risks and can increase the likelihood of developing several chronic conditions. BMI is a simple tool used to estimate whether an individual's weight is within a healthy range relative to their height, but it does not directly measure body fat or account for factors like muscle mass or body composition. However, it is a useful screening tool for identifying potential health concerns related to excess body weight.

 

Body-fat percentage.

Body fat percentage refers to the proportion of your total body weight that is composed of fat tissue. It is a more accurate measure of body composition than body mass index (BMI) because it takes into account the amount of fat relative to lean body mass (muscles, bones, organs, etc.).

Body fat percentage is an important indicator of overall health and fitness, as excessive body fat is associated with an increased risk of various health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity-related conditions. Conversely, having too little body fat can also have health implications.

 

How to measure body-fat.

There are several methods to measure body fat percentage, each with varying levels of accuracy and complexity. Some common methods include:


1. Skinfold Calipers: A trained professional uses skinfold calipers to measure the thickness of skinfolds at specific body sites. These measurements are then used to estimate body fat percentage.

2. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA): EASIEST AND CHEAPEST. This method uses a device that sends a low-level electrical current through the body. The resistance encountered by the current is used to estimate body fat percentage

3. Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA): DEXA scans provide highly accurate measurements of bone density and body fat percentage by using X-ray technology.

4. Hydrostatic Weighing: This method involves immersing a person in water and measuring the displacement of water to estimate body fat percentage.

5. Air Displacement Plethysmography (Bod Pod): Similar to hydrostatic weighing, the Bod Pod measures body composition by determining the volume of air displaced by a person in an enclosed chamber.

It's important to note that the accuracy of these methods can vary, and results may be influenced by factors like hydration levels, time of day, and recent physical activity. Additionally, there is no universally agreed-upon ideal body fat percentage, as it can vary depending on age, gender, and individual goals.

 



Percent Body Fat Norms for Men and Women

Description

Women

Men

Essential Fat

10-13%

2-5%

Athletes

14-20%

6-13%

Fitness

21-24%

14-17%

Acceptable

25-31%

18-24%

Obesity

>32%

>25%

What do the results mean?

Typically, healthy body fat percentages range from about 10% to 25% for men and 20% to 30% for women. However, these ranges can vary based on personal health, fitness goals, and individual factors.

 

Waist-to-hip Ratio

The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) score is a measurement used in health assessments to gauge an individual's risk of certain health conditions, particularly related to obesity and cardiovascular health. These measurements are often used in conjunction with other health indicators to provide a more comprehensive view of a person's health.

 

How to measure my WHR.

The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a simple and commonly used measurement to assess the distribution of body fat. To measure your waist-to-hip ratio, follow these steps:

  1. Waist Measurement:

  • Stand up straight and exhale.

  • Use a flexible measuring tape to measure the circumference of your waist at the narrowest point, typically just above the belly button.

  • Make sure the tape is snug but not too tight against your skin.

  1. Hip Measurement:

  • Measure the circumference of your hips at the widest part, which is usually around your hip bones.

  • Ensure that the tape is horizontal and parallel to the floor.

  1. Calculate WHR:

  • Once you have both measurements, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

  • The formula is: WHR = Waist circumference (in inches) / Hip circumference (in inches).

For example, if your waist circumference is 32 inches and your hip circumference is 40 inches, your WHR would be 0.8 (32/40).


What do my measurements mean?

WHR is used as an indicator of how fat is distributed in the body. It helps assess whether fat is primarily concentrated in the abdominal region (apple-shaped) or distributed more evenly around the hips and buttocks (pear-shaped).


   - Interpretation:

     - For men, a WHR of 0.90 or higher is considered high risk.

     - For women, a WHR of 0.85 or higher is considered high risk.

   - Scoring: WHR is often interpreted as a binary assessment (high risk or not) based on the specified cutoffs.


People with high waist circumference or WHR scores may be advised to make lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthier diet and increasing physical activity, to reduce their risk of obesity-related health problems. It's important to consult with a healthcare provider for a comprehensive assessment of your health and personalized recommendations.

 

Concluding Remarks

Knowing your key health numbers is essential for several reasons:


Monitoring your key health numbers allows you to identify potential health issues early. Regular check-ups and screenings can detect problems before they become serious, making it easier to prevent or manage conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or prediabetes.


Tracking your health numbers helps you maintain overall well-being. By knowing your baseline values, you can make lifestyle choices that promote good health, such as maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and managing stress. For individuals with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, monitoring key health numbers is crucial for managing their conditions effectively. It helps both individuals and healthcare providers make informed decisions about treatment adjustments.


Knowing your health numbers can serve as a source of motivation to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Seeing improvements in your numbers, such as weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, or reduced blood pressure, can be a powerful incentive to continue healthy behaviors. Setting specific health goals based on your numbers can make it easier to track progress and make necessary adjustments to your lifestyle. For instance, if you're aiming to lower your blood pressure, you can establish targets and monitor your blood pressure regularly to see if you're on track.


Maintaining healthy numbers contributes to an improved quality of life. Good health is associated with greater energy, vitality, and overall well-being, which can positively impact your daily life and activities. Being aware of your key health numbers and taking action to improve them can lead to a longer and healthier life. Managing your health can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and increase your life expectancy.


I hope you find this document useful. Additional resources can be found on my website at www.DocLevi.com

 

Doc Levi Chiropractic, PLLC

216 Keyser St. Wayne, WV 25570

Ph:  304-840-2820

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