On September 24, thousands of people – including many BioIQ team members – will lace up their shoes and get moving to support the American Heart Association (AHA) Heart Walk. This annual 5k takes place in communities across the country, including Atlanta and Santa Barbara, to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease and the links between lifestyle choices and health. And heart health should be top of mind for Americans: According to the AHA, one in three adults in the U.S. has some form of cardiovascular disease and stroke is the leading cause of disability.
There are three numbers that have a big impact on cardiovascular health: blood pressure, cholesterol and Body Mass Index (BMI). If you aren’t sure what your numbers are or you haven’t had them measured in a while, schedule a screening with your healthcare provider.
Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers and written as a ratio. The top number is systolic pressure, which is also the higher of the two numbers. It measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts). The bottom number shows diastolic pressure, the lower of the two numbers. It measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. Blood pressure is checked through a painless test using a blood pressure cuff. You can complete the test at a doctor’s office, employer’s wellness event, pharmacy or at home. High blood pressure often shows no signs or symptoms, which is why it’s so important to have yours checked regularly.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that the body uses to form cell membranes, aid in digestion and develop hormones. High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered “good cholesterol” because it removes excess cholesterol from the bloodstream and the artery walls and transports it back to the liver for metabolism. Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is considered “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque, which can increase the risk of coronary artery disease. The American Heart Association recommends all adults have their cholesterol checked each year with a simple blood test called a lipid profile. BioIQ includes a lipid panel as an essential part of its population health screening programs.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Your BMI can be used to screen for weight categories that may lead to future health problems, but it’s not a diagnostic tool. A high BMI can indicate risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and coronary artery disease. Once you know your BMI, you can talk to your doctor about whether you need to make diet and lifestyle changes. The good news is even a small weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current weight) can help lower your risk of developing those diseases. The CDC calculates BMI by dividing weight in pounds by height in inches squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703. Calculating BMI is an easy-to-perform and inexpensive method of screening.
By participating in or donating to this year’s Heart Walk, you can help achieve the AHA’s mission of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. To locate a Heart Walk near you, use the AHA’s map. See you at the starting line!