February is American Heart Month! With so many Valentine’s hearts on display, it’s time to focus on your heart, commit to a healthier lifestyle, and help fight the number one killer in Florida and the nation: heart disease. According to the CDC, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking can lead to heart disease, and about half of all Americans either have one of these health issues or smoke.
At the beginning of this year, the Department launched the 60 Days to Better Health Challenge on social media. If you haven’t started your 60 Days, start now, and if you’re at the halfway mark, continue to practice a healthier lifestyle, and get to know your heart numbers!
Normal Blood Pressure is Less Than 120/80 mmHg
In Florida, 2018, the percentage of high blood pressure by age was:
• 15.5% of adults ages 18–44.
• 44.1% of adults ages 45–64.
• 61.0% of adults 65 and older.
High blood pressure is a very common disease and many people don’t even know they have it. For most adults, normal blood pressure should be less than 120 mmHg systolic and less than 80 mmHg diastolic, or less than 120/80 mmHg (“120 over 80”). When your heart beats, it squeezes and pushes blood through your arteries—the measure of this pressure is systolic. Diastolic blood pressure, the bottom number, measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart is resting between beats.
High blood pressure is a consistent measure of 130/80 mmHg or higher. If you don’t know your blood pressure, have it checked by your health care provider.
For Adults 20 or Older, Normal Total Cholesterol is 125 to 200 mg/dL
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance made in your liver. It travels through your blood stream and is a key ingredient your body needs to make new cells. If you maintain healthy cholesterol levels, you can lower your chances for getting heart disease or having a stroke.
There are two main components to your total cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is the “good” cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein, which is the “bad” cholesterol. LDL is referred to as bad because it contributes to buildup in the walls of arteries causing them to narrow and making it difficult for blood to flow through—this can lead to heart disease or stroke. HDL cholesterol is known as good because it carries LDL away from your arteries and back to the liver. While the normal total cholesterol level is the same for both men and women age 20 and older, normal levels for HDL and LDL vary. That’s why it’s important to have your cholesterol checked. Talk with your health care provider about your results and if you need to take steps to manage your cholesterol.