Health & Wellness

Serious about getting healthy in 2016? 3 numbers you should track now

For many of us, the new year is the time to start losing those extra holiday pounds and to start focusing more on our overall health.

We all know that our blood pressure and cholesterol levels are important in the quest to stay healthy. But there are other numbers we should know as well.

NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar on important health numbers to track:

Heart Risk Calculator

This online risk assessment tool estimates your 10-year risk of having a heart attack.

It can be used by people ages 20 and up who do not have heart disease or diabetes.

To take it, you need to know your total cholesterol, your HDL or “good” cholesterol, and your systolic blood pressure, which is the first number of your blood pressure reading. Plug the information into the calculator to find out your risk score, which could determine whether you should be treated with statin therapy.

“If you’re above 7.5 percent on that calculator, you are theoretically a candidate for statin therapy,” Azar told Kathie Lee and Hoda on TODAY Wednesday.

Blood Sugar Test: Hemoglobin A1C

This blood test gives doctors information about your average level of blood glucose over the past three months, as opposed to a one-time check of your level at that moment in time. Doctors will use the result of this test to help diagnose diabetes and it is used in diabetes management. There are no symptoms of diabetes early in the disease, and testing allows doctors to diagnose and treat diabetes before complications take hold, and to detect prediabetes.

Who should have this test? “There’s no exact date or age when you should start getting the hemoglobin AIC, but if your regular blood sugars are showing high levels repeatedly or you have a family history, this is a number that you’d want checked, and it is also used to monitor treatment,” Azar said.

According to the National Institutes of Health, a level below 5.7 is normal, 5.7 to 6.4 indicates prediabetes and 6.5 or above indicates diabetes.

Bone Test: Osteoporosis/Fracture Risk Test

Called the FRAX test, it was developed by the World Health Organization to evaluate the risk of fractures. The test results give people ages 40 to 90 their 10-year-probability of a hip fracture and the 10-year probability of a major fracture anywhere in the body, in places like the forearm, hip or shoulder. The result of this test should be used along with your bone density test results to decide on whether or not to treat for osteoporosis.

And in the name of good health, Azar reviewed the health numbers to remember:

Blood pressure

Prehypertension: 120-130 systolic, or 80-89 diastolic

High blood pressure stage 1: 140-159 systolic or 90-99 diastolic

Cholesterol

Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dL

Borderline high: 200-239 mg/dL

High: 240 mg/dL or higher

BMI

Underweight: <18.5

Normal weight: 18.5-24.9

Overweight: 25-29.9

Obese: 30 and above

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