Know Your Numbers for a Healthy Heart

September 3, 2013

Originally published Feb. 13, 2012

What would you do if you were experiencing chest pain, discomfort in areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness? Would you seek medical attention immediately or would you ignore the symptoms? Ignoring the signs and symptoms of a heart attack could potentially be life-threatening.  

Warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Chest discomfort 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Lightheadedness 
  • Nausea 
  • Cold sweat 
  • Palpitations 
  • Fatigue 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Georgia. According to the American Heart Association, 21,389 Georgians died from heart disease in 2007. Approximately 145,000 hospitalizations occurred among Georgia residents due to heart disease in 2008.   The cost of heart disease in Georgia in 2008 is estimated at $11.7 billion, which includes direct health care costs and lost productivity from morbidity and mortality. 


 February is National Heart Month. The goal of National Heart Month and Georgia's Cardiovascular Health Initiative is to increase knowledge of heart disease including heart attack signs and symptoms and the importance of calling 9-1-1.  Elevated body mass index (BMI), high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high cholesterol, weight, and tobacco use are all risk factors that increase a person's risk for heart disease. By getting screened, you can learn more about those numbers that increase your risk for heart disease. Knowing your numbers can help save your life.  Your ideal healthy-heart numbers are:

Total cholesterol: Less than 200 mg/dL
Blood Pressure: Less than 120/80 mmHG
Fasting Glucose: Less than 100 mg/dL
Body Mass Index: Less than 25

During the month of February make it a priority to know your numbers by scheduling an appointment with your health care provider.  Healthy numbers mean a healthy heart.  If you follow a healthy lifestyle - eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid tobacco products - you can turn bad numbers around!

10 Ways to Love Your Heart
  • Get regular check-ups
  • Know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers
  • Follow doctor's recommendations for diet and exercise
  • Take prescribed medication as directed
  • If your smoke, quit now!
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day
  • Eat a heart healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, and fish
  • Limit foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol
  • For average Americans, limit your salt intake to 2,300 mg of sodium per day
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, drink in moderation - an average of no more than one drink per day.

Source:  American Heart Association 


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