How can you know whether your heart is getting healthier or weaker as times go by? First, keep in mind that there are no clear symptoms for people having heart issues, and heart problems may get severe before they experience any warning sign.

Know & Monitor Your Heart Health Numbers

Knowing, understanding, and monitoring key heart health numbers, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and heart rate, along with your family history – allow you to ascertain your risk for developing heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

Heart Health Numbers And What They Mean

The first crucial heart-health number you should know is your blood pressure.

That indicates how hard your blood pushes against your arteries as it moves through your body. You have high blood pressure (or hypertension) if the force of your blood against the walls of your blood vessels is consistently too high. It’s a silent killer as it usually lacks apparent symptoms. A person can have high blood pressure for years without experiencing any symptoms. But, if left uncontrolled, it is a major risk factor for heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and kidney disease. Fortunately, you can detect it easily. And once you know you have high blood pressure consistently, you can work with your health care professional to control it.

Get more information about high blood pressure

Blood pressure reading has these four categories:

blood pressure readings chart

The second key number to understand is your cholesterol.

This waxy substance is present in all your cells and shuttles throughout your body in your blood. Cholesterol comes from two sources: produced by your liver and the foods you eat.

Cholesterol can combine with other substances, forming a thick, hard deposit on the inside of your arteries, which makes arteries less flexible. Sometimes these deposits break suddenly and create a blockage that results in a heart attack or stroke.

Unhealthy high cholesterol levels mean you have too much LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) called “bad cholesterol” and not enough HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol) called “good cholesterol.”

In general,  you need to focus on bringing down your LDL, which can clog your arteries – including those that feed your heart and brain. On the other hand, HDL, the good cholesterol, will help you eliminate the bad, but only to a degree. Another important cholesterol number is triglyceride. Its high level is also bad for your heart & overall health.

Your total cholesterol number is the sum of the cholesterol numbers plus 20 percent of your triglyceride number.

Note: High cholesterol levels show no apparent symptoms.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the table below shows healthy cholesterol levels based on age and gender. Doctors measure cholesterol in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).

Anyone age 19 or younger:

Type of CholesterolHealthy Level
Total CholesterolLess than 170mg/dL
Non-HDLLess than 120mg/dL
LDLLess than 100mg/dL
HDLMore than 45mg/dL


Menage 20 or older:

Type of CholesterolHealthy Level
Total Cholesterol125 to 200mg/dL
Non-HDLLess than 130mg/dL
LDLLess than 100mg/dL
HDL40mg/dL or higher


Women age 20 or older:

Type of CholesterolHealthy Level
Total Cholesterol125 to 200mg/dL
Non-HDLLess than 130mg/dL
LDLLess than 100mg/dL
HDL50mg/dL or higher


Your doctor may recommend more frequent testing if your initial results are abnormal, if you have a personal history of obesity or diabetes, or if you have a family history of early-onset heart disease or diabetes.

Related: How To Maintain Your Cholesterol Numbers In Healthy Range?

The third important number is your resting heart rate or pulse.

That is the number of times your heart beats in one minute. Your resting heart rate is counted when you are lying down or sitting ― and you’re relaxed, calm, and aren’t sick. A good time to measure your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning before you get out of bed.

A lower resting heart rate (pulse) is associated with a lower risk of heart problems. That’s because a lower heart rate is generally an indicator of greater cardiovascular fitness. For example, athletes are more likely to have a low resting heart rate as they are physically in better shape.

In general, a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats in one minute. But stress, hormones, and medication can raise your rate. Though taking a brisk walk, bicycle ride, or swim increases your heart rate temporarily, over time, these activities make your heart more efficient. They can also help you lose weight, which can lower your risk.

Related: How To Lower Heart Rate

The fourth key number is your waist circumference.

People with more fat around their waist are at greater risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. To measure your natural waist, wrap a tape measure around your waist just above your hip bones. Neither push out nor suck in your belly. Exhale, then measure. In general, women should aim for a waist circumference of less than 35 inches (89 cm), and men should shoot for less than 40 inches (102 cm).

Related: Best Ways To Lose Fat Naturally

The final critical factor is understanding your family’s heart and overall health history in evaluating your overall heart disease risk and the increased risk for developing certain medical conditions present in your family.

If you are at higher risk, you can take timely preventive measures to lower your risk or go for genetic testing to clarify your risk.

Whereas we can’t change our genes, we can control some aspects of our lifestyle & environment, like diet, physical activity level, tobacco use, managing stress, etc. That explains why it’s so important to live a healthy lifestyle, irrespective of your personal and family health history.

About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Fitness Buffhq - Renu bakshiPersonal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”

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