Controlling the Numbers that Control Your Health

metabolic syndrome, healthy numbers, biometric screenings, health screening, wellbeing
4 min read

Take Control of Your Numbers

There are five important health numbers you should stay aware of to keep your overall health in check. We discuss why these key areas of health are important to preventing serious diseases, specifically heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
Cardiovascular disease-related deaths jumped from 874,613 in 2019 to 928,741 in 2020, the largest single-year increase since 2015, according to the 2023 update to American Heart Association's heart disease and stroke statistics. Understanding and knowing your numbers are the first steps in prevention and control of these kinds of risks.
You have more control over your health than you may know. Regardless of family history or your current health status, you have the power to make a difference in your numbers and in your risk. Did you know? It is estimated that 70% of all illnesses can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.

The Top Five Factors

The five most important numbers to know for metabolic syndrome are blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, and waist circumference.
A person is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when they have three or more of the following five risk factors: 
  • High Blood Pressure​ 
  • Low HDL​ or Good Cholesterol Level 
  • At Risk Triglyceride Level​ 
  • Elevated Blood Glucose​ 
  • At Risk Waist Circumference 
Having metabolic syndrome significantly increases a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is not a disease, but rather a cluster of disorders of your body’s metabolism. Each of these disorders is by itself is a risk factor for other diseases.​ In combination, however, these disorders dramatically boost the chances of developing potentially life-threatening illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease or stroke.​ The more components of the syndrome that you have, the greater the risks to your health.​ 

A closer look at each of these five risk factors and some specific lifestyle habits that can influence them most:

Keep in mind that all areas of your health and well-being are interconnected. Working on healthy habit change a little at a time can impact all risk factors over time. The more layered your risks are, the more difficult it can be to control them. It is extremely important to work with your doctor if any of these are at risk. The combination of recommended medical treatments along with healthy lifestyle change is often required to impact your health risks and gain long-term results.

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a silent killer that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other serious health issues.
  • Regularly monitor your blood pressure year-round. Invest in a reliable home blood pressure monitor or check it frequently at drug stores or pharmacies. Keep a running log in your notes on your smartphone.
  • A healthy blood pressure reading is 120/80 mmHg or lower. Ideally, you want to aim for this range. A blood pressure above130/85 mmHg is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome.
  • Maintain a healthy diet that reduces sodium intake. Processed snack foods, fried foods and fast food are some of the greatest impactors to elevated blood pressure. 

Blood Cholesterol

High cholesterol levels can clog your arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. Understanding your cholesterol numbers is vital for managing your heart health.
Low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides are both risk factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome. 
  • Get a cholesterol test (lipid panel) annually. Stay aware of your risk through your annual screening at your employee health fair or at your annual visit with your physician.
  • Aim for a high HDL cholesterol. Engaging in regular physical activity will support a healthy HDL cholesterol level.
  • Maintain a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats.

Blood Glucose

High blood sugar puts you at risk for diabetes and can lead to complications such as nerve damage, kidney problems, and cardiovascular disease. 
  • Your blood glucose should also be monitored annually through lab work or included in your annual health fair lipid panel screening.
  • You should aim to maintain a fasting blood sugar level below 100 mg/dL or below 140 mg/dL if non-fasting.
  • Maintain a balanced diet with a focus on sufficient fiber intake while avoiding high intake of sugar and processed carbohydrates.
  • Incorporate regular physical activity into your daily routine to improve insulin sensitivity.

Waist Circumference

Your waist circumference is another indicator of health, as excess abdominal fat can be particularly harmful. If your waist circumference is equal to more than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men, it increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and more. 
  • Regardless of where your current BMI or weight is, a healthy lifestyle is the key to improving risk factors at any weight.
  • Gradual healthy weight loss through increased physical activity and improvements to diet will support reducing/ losing the unhealthiest body fat that is typically stored in the waist area.
Controlling your health numbers is not just about preventing illness, it's about optimizing your quality of life. It's crucial to be proactive about your health. Regular monitoring, a balanced diet, physical fitness, and stress management are key components in this journey. By taking charge of your health, you can continue to excel in your work and enjoy a long, healthy life. Remember, you're not just working for a living; you're working for a life worth living.

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