Five health measurements
There are many signs that your heart isn’t healthy, but what are signs that your heart is healthy? Learn how to gauge the overall health of your heart with these tips.
There are five health measurements that indicate your heart is healthy. If you maintain strong numbers in these five areas, there is a good chance you have a healthy heart.
Steps Per Day
Health professionals recommend taking 10,000 steps per day, which is equal to around five miles. If you don’t want to measure steps, you can aim for 150 minutes of activity each week. This breaks down to around 30 minutes of activity five days per week. Staying active is better for your health than being inactive.
Unfortunately, high blood pressure doesn’t always have signs and symptoms. By measuring your blood pressure regularly, you can know where you stand. A blood pressure of around 120/80 is optimal, and most people average around 140/90. Anything higher than this is dangerous for your health and increases your risk for heart attack or stroke.
Your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels indicate when you may have too much fat in your blood. The average person should look for a reading of around 130 milligrams per deciliter. If you’re at a greater risk for heart disease, you want levels that fall between 70–100 milligrams per deciliter or lower.
Having high blood sugar puts you at risk for diabetes. While diabetes is known for harmful risk factors, many people don’t realize that the disease damages your arteries. Having diabetes increases your risk for heart disease.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Your healthy weight range is measured based on your height and weight. A healthy BMI falls between 18.5 and 24.9. When you maintain a healthy weight, you protect your heart health. Too much fat can block your arteries and put you at a greater risk for heart disease.
Other health indicators
There are other ways to gauge your heart health, although they do not have distinct measurements like those listed above.
The amount of sleep you should get each night depends on many factors, but most people need between 7 and 9 hours for optimal health. Create a routine that allows you to get enough sleep so your body has plenty of time to recover each day. Getting enough sleep reduces your risk for heart disease.
If you have a condition that prevents you from getting enough sleep, talk to your doctor about your concerns. Sleep apnea is a common condition that can cause you to stop breathing at night, interrupting your sleep patterns.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
If you maintain a healthy diet, you are more likely to have a healthy heart. You should prioritize healthy foods like:
- Whole grains
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Lean meat
- Healthy fats
- Low-fat dairy
You should avoid foods that are:
- High in sodium
- Fried or fatty
- Full of refined sugar
If you have never smoked, your heart is likely healthier than if you did smoke. Smoking puts you at a greater risk for heart disease, but it’s never too late to quit. When you stop smoking, you quickly lower your risk for chronic health conditions like heart disease and improve your heart health.
If your doctor prescribes medications for any health condition, it's important to take them as directed. Many health conditions increase your risk for heart disease. By taking your medications and lessening the impact on your health, you also decrease your risk for heart disease. Never stop taking a medication without first talking to your doctor.
It’s common to feel stress in specific situations, but if you experience chronic stress, you may be at a greater risk of heart disease. You can manage stress by exercising, eating healthy, and finding outlets for your stress. You can listen to music or calm down by meditating and practicing breathing. Unmanaged stress can lead to:
- Higher blood pressure
- Eating too much
- Drinking or smoking
When your overall health is good, your heart health is likely to be good, too. Ignore heart health myths you may hear and instead talk to your doctor about any specific concerns. They can request tests that measure your heart health. Make sure you tell them about any family members who have suffered from heart disease. This helps your doctor better predict your overall risk for a heart attack or stroke.