AARP offers some heart questions

Published 2:11 pm Friday, August 18, 2023

Nearly half of Americans have at least one of the three leading risk factors for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Yet too often, key heart risks go unchecked.

Do you know where you stand when it comes to your risk for heart disease? Here are two questions to ask your doctor.

1. HOW’S MY BLOOD PRESSURE?

Forty percent of Americans don’t know their blood pressure numbers, and 64 percent don’t know what those numbers mean, a 2019 survey from the American Medical Association and American Heart Association found. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. If that top number is 120 to 129, that’s “elevated.” If the top number is 130 or higher, or the bottom number is above 80, that’s considered “high.”

High blood pressure is often called a silent killer because it creeps up without symptoms. The only way to know if you have it is to get it measured.

2. WHAT’S MY TARGET CHOLESTEROL?

A total cholesterol level under 200 is considered normal, but the best levels of heart-threatening low-density lipo-proteins (LDLs) and triglycerides depend on your age, gender and whether you have other heart risks like diabetes. No wonder half the people with high cholesterol in a recent survey said they were confused about the best cholesterol level for them and how to get there.

Similar to high blood pressure, high cholesterol can come without warning. A cholesterol test — just a quick blood draw — will check your LDL levels, your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol levels and your triglycerides, which play a role in heart attack and stroke risk