Know Your Blood Pressure, Cholesterol
Strictly for Seniors
Even if you don't have a first-degree relative who died young from heart disease, you should still know your blood pressure and cholesterol figures.
When it comes to blood pressure, both the top number, the systolic, and the bottom number, the diastolic, are important. It is important to know your blood pressure and to have it monitored once a year; more often if it is elevated.
Everyone has different blood pressure readings, some are high, some low and most are in the middle. Many doctors once held the belief that an acceptable systolic reading (upper measurement) of blood pressure is 100 plus your age. Modern physicians say normal blood pressure takes no account of age. A reading of 120mm/80mm is normal regardless, according to Mayo Clinic staff.
There are many arguments now that blood pressure readings are only being used to fuel sales of drugs and that tests are revealing that blood pressure pills in no way increase life span of those declared to have "high" blood pressure.
While the truth remains to be seen, we're going to go with the average "acceptable" standards for the purposes of general health guidelines and proceed accordingly. However, we do urge everyone to do some research and take responsibility for your own health issues. We recommend the Blood Pressure Wrist Unit for personal monitoring of your BP at any time.
So, the average acceptable upper blood pressure limit is 140/90 although some will say 130/85 is a preferable (upper limit). Optimal blood pressure is now said to be 115/75. (It keeps going down, while sales of blood pressure lowering drugs goes up...)
Those are general guidelines one can use to assess blood pressure readings. If you fall within the average ranges, chances are you've nothing to worry about. However, if you do have concerns, do talk with your physician about them.
Cholesterol -- a fatty, waxed substance found in animal products and some shellfish -- should be monitored because it can develop into arterial plaque and lead to heart disease.
Certain oils used in processed foods that are high in saturated fat, such as palm and coconut oil, also tend to raise cholesterol -- as do trans-fatty acids such as vegetable oils, which are hydrogenated to make them more saturated.
To determine a safe level of cholesterol, remember that there are two types. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered unhealthy because it promotes the deposit of cholesterol in the arteries. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered healthy because it carries LDL away from the artery walls to the liver so that it can be metabolized.
An appropriate level of HDL -- 60 or over -- can help prevent heart disease. People with coronary risk factors should have an LDL reading of less than 100; a slightly higher level is acceptable for people without risk factors. Total HDL and LDL should be less than 200.
You will also want to monitor your triglyceride level, another type of blood fat made up of three fatty acids and a sugar molecule. Your triglyceride level determines how your body transports fat in the blood stream -- and whether fat will be stored or used as energy. A good reading is less than 150. High levels of triglycerides also increase heart-disease risk.
Two things that elevate triglyceride levels are refined carbohydrates and alcohol. One mistake that people make when they go on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet is they eat too many refined carbohydrates, which can raise triglycerides. Instead, make sure you eat whole grains and vegetables and limit alcohol intake.