COURTESY OF: Bridget Gamble

With back-to-school season in full swing, now is the perfect time to take control of your and your family’s health. When you take control of your health, you will see improvements in the care you and your family receive.

Wondering how you can start to take control? Knowing your numbers is a great place to start. Blood pressure, blood sugar levels and body mass index are three important numbers to know that can indicate whether you are at risk for serious health problems.

Knowing the following numbers is the first step to understanding how to better care for yourself and your family:

  1. Blood pressure
    One in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, according to Mayo Clinic. High blood pressure can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure, often with no symptoms. It is important to know your blood pressure score so you can manage your number and avoid the serious health problems it may cause.

Think of your blood pressure score as a fraction. A blood pressure score has two numbers. The upper number reflects the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. This is known as systolic pressure. The lower number reflects the pressure in your arteries between beats. This is known as diastolic pressure. A healthy blood pressure reading is below 120/80.

To make sure you stay healthy, ask your doctor to read your blood pressure at least once every two years.

  1. Glucose levels

Testing your glucose, or blood sugar, levels is a way for your doctor to find out if you may have diabetes. There are several ways that your doctor can conduct this test, including a glycated hemoglobin A1C test, a random blood sample, a blood sample after you have fasted, or an oral glucose tolerance test.

Wondering if you or a family member should be tested for diabetes? The American Diabetes Association recommends that anyone with a body mass index higher than 25 be tested, especially if he or she has additional risk factors such as high blood pressure and a sedentary lifestyle, among others. Additionally, anyone older than 45 should have a blood sugar screening from their doctor and be screened continually afterwards.

  1. Body mass index (BMI)

You can find your body mass index (BMI) by calculating your weight and height. For most people, BMI indicates the amount of fat on your body. This information serves as a screening for weight problems that may cause additional health problems, such as heart attack or stroke.

The formula for finding your BMI is as follows: weight (lb) / [height (in)]2 x 703

You may also use a BMI calculator at www.bmi-calculator.net.

Here is how to interpret a BMI:

BMI Weight status

Below 18.5 Underweight

18.5 – 24.9 Normal

25.0 – 29.9 Overweight

30.30 and up Obese

Are you looking for a doctor to help you and your family manage your health? Call Sinai Health System at (773) 257-5777 today.