Heart Disease Risk: What You NEED To Know

What Do You Know About Your Heart Disease Risk?

High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, but there are also other factors to take into consideration. Obviously, not every individual who has high blood pressure develops heart disease, but the negative contribution that high blood pressure has on your overall heart health is too great to ignore.

Keep Your Heart Healthy

Keeping your heart healthy is an important goal even more so if you have high blood pressure. The problem is that not many Americans even know what their risk of developing heart disease actually is. In addition to high blood pressure, there are many factors that are taken into consideration when determining an individual’s risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol levels are important for determining an individual’s risk of heart disease. It used to be that total cholesterol was the main concern. Nowadays, physicians consider a few other levels are as equally important.

HDL vs. LDL

HDL cholesterol is generally referred to as the “good” cholesterol. HDL is the only cholesterol level that you will want to have high. The higher the better. HDL transports unused cholesterol out of your blood vessels. Your HDL level should be 40 or above. Anything less than 40 will increase your risk of heart disease, and 60 or greater is ideal. However, doctors determine your heart disease ratio by measuring your HDL level against your total cholesterol. Individuals should aim to keep their ratio below 5:1. This is where it can get really complicated. It is possible to have high total cholesterol but still have a good heart disease ratio as long as your HDL number is high. You can increase your HDL by exercising which incidentally is also a good way to lower blood pressure.

LDL cholesterol is usually referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, although it still serves an important function. LDL should be less than 130 but less than 100 is ideal. Regular exercise can help lower your LDL too, so you can easily see the relationship exercise has on heart disease risk and on improving blood pressure. Triglycerides should be less than 150. Triglycerides serve a necessary function of fueling your muscles to do their job, but there is still an upper recommended limit for healthy triglycerides.

Hopefully, you’ve seen the importance of keeping your heart healthy by knowing your cholesterol levels. High blood pressure is certainly a contributing factor to heart disease, but managing your cholesterol levels is also important.

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