Whether it’s the fitness tracker on your wrist or the health app on your smartphone, you probably use some sort of product to track your health-related data. Tech-savvy or not, people today are often influenced by our information-driven society to start being conscious and making sense of their personal health numbers.
“Patients often ask what they should check and how often,” says Jonathan Hutcheson, DO, family medicine physician with Kettering Health Network. “The answer depends on a person’s health status and medical history.”
Dr. Hutcheson warns that because health is so individualized, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to knowing your health numbers. But the standard values below may help to prompt a conversation between you and your medical provider.
What’s normal? The desired range for adults: Under 129/80 mm Hg
Stages of hypertension, or high blood pressure:
Stage I: 130-139/80-89 mm Hg
Stage II: Higher than 140/90 mm Hg
How often should I be checked? The recommended frequency is different for each patient and is influenced by whether they have previously had abnormal blood pressure or have been diagnosed with hypertension. Those who historically have had normal blood pressure and are not on medications should be checked at least once a year. People who are taking medications for blood pressure or who have other chronic medical conditions require much more frequent monitoring, as determined by their medical provider.
Resting heart rate
What’s normal? The desired range for adults: 60 to 100 beats per minute
What does it mean? Typically, a resting heart rate in the lower part of this range is reflective of an efficient heart and/or good cardiovascular fitness, but that’s not always the case. If your resting heart rate falls outside of this normal range, you should consult your medical provider.
What is it? A cholesterol test measures the amount of a few types of cholesterol and fats in your blood, which could indicate risk of heart disease.
Total cholesterol: Under 200 mg/dL
Triglycerides: Under 150
LDL cholesterol: Under 100
HDL cholesterol: Over 40
How often should I be checked? People without underlying heart disease or high cholesterol should be tested every five years. Those with these risk factors or other indications will require lipid screening every year, or sometimes even more frequently.
While it’s a good idea to be aware of your health numbers, they can be difficult to understand and track. The best course of action is to regularly see a primary care provider who can guide you in understanding what your results mean and how to proceed.
Body mass index (BMI)
What is it? BMI is a measure of fat based on a person’s height and weight. There are simple online calculators that can be used to determine BMI.
What’s normal? Once you’ve calculated your BMI, use the chart below to determine if you’re in the normal range.
Underweight: Less than 18.5
Normal weight: 18.5 to 24.9
Overweight: 25 to 29.9
Obese: 30 and above
What is it? A glucose test measures the amount of sugar present in your blood.
What’s normal? The normal range after fasting is 70 to 100 mg/dL. If multiple tests come back between 100 and 125, the person is considered to have prediabetes. Fasting values higher than 125 on multiple occasions is consistent with diabetes.
How often should I be checked? For adults that do not have diabetes or prediabetes, fasting glucose levels should be checked yearly.
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