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Your questions answered on heart healthy stats


I keep hearing about "heart-healthy stats" and "know your numbers". What does that mean?

Ann Davis, MD, Cardiologist

When it comes to your heart, you can never be too careful. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death for women and nearly a half a million die of a heart-related condition every year.

"While that fact is sobering, there are more stats you need to know," according to Ann Davis, cardiologist with Midwest Heart Specialists. "These will help keep your heart health in check and are important to discuss with your physician as part of your annual physical."

Blood pressure

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease.

A well-balanced diet and exercise can help reduce blood pressure.

  • Goal: Less than 120/80 mmHg.
  • If readings reach 140/90 mmHg or higher, your risk for heart disease increases.


Diet and exercise can lower your cholesterol too. In addition, keeping your triglyceride levels low is important.

  • Goal: Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL.
  • Your HDL or "good" cholesterol should be 50-60 mg/dL or higher for women. Your LDL or "bad" cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL.Your triglyceride level should be less than 150 mg/dL.


People with pre-diabetes or diabetes have higher levels of blood sugar. This can damage nerves and blood vessels, which can lead to heart disease.

  • Goal: Less than 99 mg/dL.
  • Pre-diabetes levels range from 100 to 125 mg/dL.
  • Diabetes is diagnosed at 126 mg/dL and above.

Body mass index

A healthy body weight is one of the best ways to protect your heart. Obesity can lead to high cholesterol, diabetes, and stroke. Body Mass Index (BMI) measures percentage of body fat.

  • Goal: between 18.5 and 24.9.
  • If your BMI is higher than 30, you should speak with a doctor about a plan for getting down to a healthier weight.

Waist size

The more fat a woman stores around her midsection – the greater her risk for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes – all of which can lead to increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Goal: Less than 35 inches.

To find out if you are at risk, take the free five-minute test that could save your life. Log on to ww.edward.org/heartaware.

Can you tell me the Lowdown on High Blood Pressure?

Vincent Bufalino, MD, Cardiologist

Over 72 million Americans have high blood pressure and 28 percent of them don't know it. Are you one of them? Do you know what to do to keep it in a healthy range?

The American Heart Association guidelines for blood pressure are as follows:

  • High: A resting blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher.
  • Normal: A resting blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg or lower.
  • Pre-hypertensive: A reading in between these levels.

"People with high blood pressure and those in the pre-hypertensive range are at an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, heart, and kidney failure," according to Vince Bufalino, MD, Medical Director of the Edward Heart Hospital and President of Midwest Heart Specialists. "Knowing that your blood pressure is above the normal range is important because these health emergencies can be avoided if blood pressure is managed."

Cause may be a mystery, but treatment is not
There is often no known cause for high blood pressure, but there are many ways to improve blood pressure levels. One way is by taking medication. Another is by making lifestyle and dietary modifications such as:

  • Eating a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Reducing fat and saturated fat in diet
  • Controlling salt and sodium intake
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days

If you have tried these lifestyle changes and have not seen a reduction in your overall blood pressure, or if you do not know your blood pressure, please speak with your doctor. If you do not have a primary care physician, contact the Edward Physician Referral Service at www.edward.org/findadoc. 


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801 S. Washington, Naperville, IL 60540 • (630) 527-3000

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