Measuring Your Risk: The main measures that indicate you have risk or have reduced risk are blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and homocysteine level. Let’s look at each one separately.
1. Your blood pressure. This is measured as, for example, 120/76 mmHg. The top figure is the systolic blood pressure, the bottom figure the diastolic blood pressure. It’s the bottom figure—your diastolic blood pressure—that’s the most important figure. If your blood pressure is above 140/90, you have a much greater risk of heart disease. In fact, roughly every 10 point increase above 76 doubles your risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
2. Your cholesterol level. This is broken down into your total cholesterol, your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and your HDL (“good”) cholesterol. You want to have a low LDL cholesterol (ideally below 100 mg/dL), a high HDL cholesterol (ideally above 60 mg/dL), and a total cholesterol of not less than 150 mg/dL and not more than 200 mg/dL. As a rough indicator, with every 50 point increase in your total cholesterol above 200mg/dL, you double your risk of death from cardiovascular disease. With every 50 mg/dL increase in LDL, you double your risk, and with every 20 mg/dL decrease in HDL below 60 mg/dL, you double your risk.
3. Your triglyceride level. This reflects the level of fats in your blood stream and is raised by eating high fat/high sugar diets, or by excessive alcohol. Your trigylceride level should be below 89 mg/dL. As a rough indicator, every 50 mg/dL increase doubles your risk.
4. Your homocysteine level. This is measured in, for example, 6 mmol/l. You want to have a score below 6. As a rough indicator, with every 5 point increase above 6 mmol/l you double your risk of death from cardiovascular disease. There are other important measures such as your platelet adhesion index and your fibrinogen levels, which measure the stickiness of your blood; lipoprotein (a) level, which is a highly significant risk factor; and C-reactive protein level, which indicates inflammation in the arteries. Make sure that your doctor measures all of these important risk factors as well. How Good Are Heart Medications? There are several categories of heart medications, each designed to address one of the major categories I listed above. They include statin drugs, which are designed to lower LDL ......
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