Brand New Heart Health Numbers Could Mean Officially At Risk

You may be about to receive some bad news.

Cardiovascular disease is one of Australia’s largest health problems, affecting one in six people -- but it’s also a largely preventable condition. So when it comes to taking care of your ticker, there are a few numbers you should know by heart.

Likely you have a rough idea of what numbers equal good heart health. But brace yourself -- those numbers are changing, meaning that what was once acceptable may no longer be so. Think that may affect you? Scroll down to learn more.

Blood pressure level

A healthy blood pressure in adults is 120/80. The top number (systolic blood pressure) measures the force in your heart as it beats and pushes blood around your body. The bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) refers to the pressure when your heart muscle is in between beats.

High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is when your numbers are persistently higher than normal. In Australia, a reading higher than 140/90 is generally considered to be stage 1 hypertension. But, in the US, the American Heart Association recently redefined stage 1 hypertension as any reading between 130-139 mmHg and 80-89 mmHg.

“While the definition of a normal blood pressure hasn’t altered, these changes have raised awareness of the significance of good blood pressure control,” says GP at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Dr Magdalena Simonis. “Where 140 mmHg was once the cut off point for treatment, we’re now looking at anything above 130 mmHg as potential hypertension.”

So where you may have been deemed A-Okay in the heart health department before, you now may be skirting dangerously close to the not-so-healthy numbers or possibly even over them. The only way to know is you get your blood pressure checked and ASAP.

While you're at it you might like to run some checks on these two areas also ... Yes, it's cholesterol and waist circumference time.

LDL cholesterol level

Cholesterol has a bit of a bad reputation -- but it’s somewhat unwarranted. We actually need a certain amount of cholesterol, but too much can contribute to clogged arteries and also cardiovascular disease.

There are two main types of cholesterol: HDL (high density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein), of which the latter is a major cause of coronary heart disease. “LDL coats the lining of your blood vessels and causes atherosclerosis or narrowing of arteries,” says Dr Simonis.

It’s important that your cholesterol levels stay within the acceptable range of 4.0 and 5.5 mmol/L. A reading higher than this puts you at risk of heart disease and stroke.

Waist circumference

If you’ve needed to loosen your belt a few notches recently, consider this: the fat around your belly puts you at a greater risk of heart disease. As your waist circumference increases, so does the risk of heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

“A waist measurement of greater than 94cm for men and 80cm for women is an indicator of the level of internal fat deposits, which coat the heart, kidneys, liver, digestive organs and pancreas. This can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke,” says Dr Simonis.

Feature image: Getty.