Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing 1 in 4—or just over 600,000—deaths each year. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death. Both are more likely to occur if you have one of three specific risk factors, detailed below.
Blood pressure is the force it takes for blood to travel away from your heart, through your arteries, and to other organs. It is measured by two numbers:
Systolic blood pressure is the top number, which represents the pressure generated when your heart beats.
Diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number, which represents the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.
Blood pressure guidelines:
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made in your liver and travels throughout your blood stream on what are known as lipoproteins. There are two types:
A lipid panel is blood test that measures LDL, HDL and triglycerides, which are the free-floating fats in your blood stream. Optimal: less than 150 mg/dL
Your cardiologist or primary care physician can assess your 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke by calculating your Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD) risk score, or you can calculate your score online at tools.acc.org/ASCVD-Risk-Estimator-Plus
If you questions or need help calculating your risk for a heart attack or stroke, reach out to your primary care physician or set up an appointment with a cardiologist . UCLA has cardiologists in 12 convenient locations:
Learn more at uclahealth.org/heart.
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This story ran in the Fall 2019 issue of The Checkup, a UCLA Health community newsletter on how to live your healthiest life.