Know Your Numbers
During your annual checkup, your doctor will order blood tests and other
screenings to assess your overall health. These test results, which are
often referred to as your “numbers,” can help identify risk
factors for conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol
and high blood pressure. Your doctor will determine which tests are right
for you based on your age, lifestyle and other factors. Common tests include:
Blood pressure screening. Blood pressure screenings measure the force of your blood against your
arteries when your heart beats and rests. High blood pressure needs to
be treated since it can damage your heart and lead to heart attack, heart
disease and stroke. A reading of less than 130/80 is considered normal.
Cholesterol screening. A cholesterol screening measures the amount of cholesterol, a waxy substance
produced by your liver, in your blood. We have both “good”
and “bad” cholesterol. Too much bad cholesterol is a risk
factor for heart attack, heart disease and stroke.
A total cholesterol reading of less than 200 mg/dL is considered normal.
An LDL (“bad” cholesterol) reading of less than 130 mg/dL
is considered normal, and an HDL (“good” cholesterol) reading
of greater than 60 mg/dL is considered normal.
Blood glucose screening. A blood glucose screening measures the amount of glucose (sugar) in your
blood. The test is used to check for diabetes and pre diabetes. A reading
that falls between 4 and 5.6 percent is considered normal.
Body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is calculated using your height and weight and helps determine
if you are at a healthy weight. A BMI between 18.6 and 24.9 is considered normal.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening. PSA screening is recommended for men older than age 50. This test measures
the level of PSA, a protein produced by your prostate gland, in your blood
to check for signs of prostate cancer. A reading of 4.0 ng/mL is considered normal.
After you receive your test results, your doctor will help you set achievable
goals that will improve or maintain your health. He or she may also recommend
follow-up testing or care as needed.