There are many numbers that get thrown out when you go for a routine doctor visit, from blood pressure to body mass index. While your doctor will let you know if your numbers are healthy, you might be wondering what exactly these numbers reveal about your health.
When it comes to your understanding your health, education is key. In health care, biometrics refer to the measurement and statistical analysis of each person’s unique physical and behavioral characteristics.
While some biometrics are provided to you during a routine physical, you can get more in depth with your numbers at a biometric screening conducted by a primary care physician. You can then make educated health decisions from there. Some company wellness programs even offer these screenings in the workplace.
Traditional screenings reveal these seven biometrics.
Body Mass Index
BMI is calculated from a person’s weight and height and identifies possible weight problems for adults. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. Being overweight or obese puts you at higher risk for serious health problems.
Though a useful starting point, BMI isn’t always an accurate description of health, depending on factors like a person’s muscle mass. To give a more precise measure of health, further assessments such as waist circumference, body fat percent and evaluation of diet and physical activity should be performed.
Blood pressure is an indicator of cardiovascular health and stress levels. A normal blood pressure level is anything less than 120/80. The American Heart Association provides this helpful chart so you can see where your blood pressure falls.
The top number is your systolic blood pressure which indicates how much pressure is being exerted against your artery walls when your heart beats. The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure, which tells how much pressure is being exerted against the artery walls when your heart is resting in between beats. Both numbers can be used to diagnose high blood pressure.
Higher blood pressure levels increase the risk of heart disease, congestive heart failure and stroke.
Low-density lipoprotein is known as “bad” cholesterol and makes up most of the cholesterol in your body. Levels below 100 are considered ideal. Too much LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of blood vessels and could block blood flow. Lower levels of LDL cholesterol generally represent a lower risk for heart attack and stroke.
High-density lipoprotein is considered “good” cholesterol because high levels of HDL are thought to protect against heart attacks. HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver where it is flushed out of the body. Levels above 60 are considered ideal.
Triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood, is used to provide energy to the body. But in excess, triglycerides can harden your arteries and increase your risk for heart disease. Levels below 150 are desirable.
Total cholesterol is the total amount of cholesterol found in your blood, both LDL and HDL. A total cholesterol reading of less than 200 mg/dL is best – higher numbers could indicate an increased risk for coronary heart disease.
Blood Sugar (Glucose)
Blood sugar measures the level of glucose in your blood. Blood sugar plays an important role in in maintaining metabolic homeostasis.
People with high blood sugar or glucose levels are at risk for diabetes. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or stroke than adults without diabetes. A healthy fasting blood sugar level for individuals without diabetes is between 70 and 100.
Understanding your numbers is the first step to improving health. These risk assessments provide a good snapshot so doctors can help you manage biometrics.