The fourth key is total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL. I believe that cholesterol is not a good indicator of heart health. Why? Because 50% of the people who die from a heart attack have normal, healthy levels of cholesterol. If half the dead people have healthy levels of cholesterol, why is total cholesterol an effective measure of heart health? A good alternative to cholesterol for assessing heart health is your homocysteine level.
Homocysteine is an amino acid in your bloodstream. If it is too high your risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease increases. Homocysteine is not obtained from the foods you eat but is influenced by them as well as your genes. B vitamins are effective in reducing your homocysteine levels. Low levels of B vitamins have been related to cardiovascular and memory problems. Folic acid, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 are the preferred B vitamins for heart health.
The fifth key is blood pressure below 120/80 mmHg. Blood pressure is certainly a key element of heart health. High blood pressure has many known cardiovascular challenges. Your blood pressure is something you should know, especially if it is higher than normal. Blood pressure measuring equipment is available in many places and relatively inexpensive.
Pulse is another indicator of heart health in my opinion. Are you in good health if your normal pulse is over 100 and your blood pressure is 120/80? I don’t know. It is obviously something you should discuss with your doctor. I believe that your resting pulse and your recovery pulse are two great keys to good heart health.
Recovery heart rate is measured after exercise. The time period from the end of your exercise to your measurement varies. When I first started measuring my recovery heart rate 40+ years ago, the standard time was three minutes. Today the literature says one to two minutes.
A delay in recovery heart rate from exercise can be a predictive marker for your heart health. Recovery heart rates are affected by overheating and dehydration, so it is necessary to measure it a number of times and note the conditions under which you exercised.
The sixth key to ideal heart health is a fasting glucose level less than 100 mg/dL. My research shows that the normal range for your blood sugar level is 82-110 mg/dL. This fasting blood glucose test is used to determine if you might have diabetes. Hyperglycemia is determined if your blood glucose level is 130 or higher after eight hours of fasting. People with hyperglycemia typically have increased thirst, increased urination, fatigue, blurred vision and healing difficulties from infections.
If you fasting glucose test is 50 or less, then the condition is called hypoglycemia. Classic symptoms are sweating, hunger, trembling, anxiety, confusion, and blurred vision. If your fasting glucose level is between 100 and 125, then you might be approaching diabetes.
The seventh key to ideal heart health is eating a healthy diet. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the many heart-healthy diet suggestions – lots of fruit and vegetables, lots of fiber, fish rather than meat, low sodium and low sugar consumption daily. I won’t argue with those recommendations.
However, as we age, our bodies are not as efficient as they were when we were younger. For example, your digestive efficiency decreases approximately 13% per decade. After age 50, your digestive efficiency is less than half what it was when you were a teenager. So, if you eat the same amount of food, then you are absorbing less than 50% of the nutrients that your body needs. If you eat more to absorb more, then you risk gaining weight – also not a good sign for a healthy heart.