You’ve heard that nothing should take precedence over your health, but the reality is that for many men
, their health takes a backseat to other commitments such as family and work. You might even think, “I feel perfectly fine, why should I go to the doctor?”
Unfortunately, blood pressure and cholesterol can reach dangerously high levels without causing any symptoms, so “feeling fine” doesn’t always mean good health. What’s more, if you do have high blood pressure and cholesterol and fail to receive treatment, you could develop heart disease—the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the United States. That’s why it’s crucial to get tested and learn your numbers now, so you can take charge of your health before it’s too late.
Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Tests: What They Measure
A blood pressure test measures the force of your blood as it pushes against your artery walls. Your test result will consist of two numbers: the first is your systolic pressure (the top number when the heart is beating), and the second is your diastolic pressure (the bottom number between beats).
Cholesterol tests measure the amount of cholesterol in your blood. There are two main types of cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoproteins (LDL): Referred to as the “bad” form of cholesterol, LDL can clog up the arteries and restrict blood flow—a condition called atherosclerosis.
- High-density lipoproteins (HDL): Referred to as the “good” form of cholesterol, HDL work to “clean up” LDL cholesterol from your arteries.
Goal Levels for Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Ideal blood pressure numbers can vary based on a variety of factors, including your age and overall health. Generally, you want your blood pressure to be lower than the ranges listed below. If your blood pressure is too high, you should follow up with your doctor regularly.
- >130/80 = Stage 1 hypertension – See your doctor at least once a year.
- >140/90 = Stage 2 hypertension – See your doctor every few weeks or months.
- >180/120 = Hypertension crisis – See your doctor that day.
Learn about lifestyle changes to help manage blood pressure.
For cholesterol, optimal levels again depend on your age and health conditions. Be aware that your test may include results for your total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but it’s your LDL and HDL cholesterol numbers that should be your primary concern.
- LDL “bad” cholesterol: When it comes to your LDL cholesterol, the lower your number the better. Less than 100 is recommended for people with diabetes and even lower with other cardiovascular diseases such as a previous heart attack. Depending on your overall health, you may be able to have safe LDL levels of 160 or higher.
- HDL “good” cholesterol: For this type of cholesterol, the higher your number the better. Ideally, your number will be 50 or above.
Doctors recommend that individuals over the age of 30 have their cholesterol levels checked at least once every three to five years. If your numbers are abnormal or if you have other health conditions, you may need more frequent tests.
Learn how to lower cholesterol.
The Final Word in Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Your Heart Health
Blood pressure and cholesterol tests are incredibly easy to complete. A blood pressure test is as simple as having a cuff wrapped around your arm, while a cholesterol test involves nothing more than a quick blood draw. Keep in mind that if your numbers are outside of the “normal” ranges for your age and health status, you should speak with your doctor about medications and lifestyle changes that can help correct your levels and minimize your risk of heart disease. You have the power to change your health for the better!