What do the numbers mean?

Good numbers mean lower heart risk.

You went to the doctor and got all the tests you needed to find out if you are heart healthy or on the road to heart disease. You got a flurry of numbers from the doctor.

Want to take the confusion out of all of the numbers from your doctor? Good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, blood sugar…what do you really need to know?

Cholesterol & Triglycerides

You need both HDL and LDL.

Cholesterol and triglycerides are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood. Cholesterol is broken into two different kinds: high density lipoprotiens (HDL), or good cholesterol, and low density lipoprotiens (LDL), or bad cholesterol. Controlling cholesterol and triglycerides are key to maintaining heart health and risk of heart disease.

Desirable levels are considered low risk.

  • Total cholesterol: Less than 200
  • HDL: 60 and above
  • LDL: Less than 100
  • Triglycerides: Less than 150

Borderline high levels are higher than normal risk.

  • Total cholesterol: 200-239
  • HDL: 40-59
  • LDL: 130-159
  • Triglycerides: 150-199

High levels represent more than double the risk of heart disease.

  • Total cholesterol: 240 or higher
  • HDL: Less than 50
  • LDL: 160 or higher
  • Triglycerides: 200-499

Triglycerides have an even higher level considered “very high”, which is 500 milligrams per deciliter or higher.

Blood Pressure

Digitales Blutdruckmessgerät / Digital Blood P...

High blood pressure or hypertension causes heart attack, stroke and leads to heart disease. It also causes other serious health problems related to circulation and heart muscle health. Blood pressure is measure in millimeters of mercury. Your doctor will represent your blood pressure as systolic pressure over diastolic pressure.

Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in the heart when it is contracting, or the higher top number. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in the heart when the ventricles are filled with blood and at rest, or the lower bottom number.

What do the numbers mean?

Four levels of blood pressure (BP) classify the risk of heart disease: normal, pre-hypertension, stage one high and stage two high. Pre-hypertension can normally be controlled by diet and exercise. Stages one and two are treated by a physician with medication and more aggressive therapies, including surgery.


  • Systolic BP: Less than 120 and
  • Diastolic BP: Less than 80


  • Systolic BP: 120-139 or
  • Diastolic BP: 80-89

High, Stage One:

  • Systolic BP: 140-159 or
  • Diastolic BP: 90-99

High, Stage Two:

  • Systolic BP: 160 or higher or
  • Diastolic BP: 100 or higher

You will notice the “or” in the last three levels. Even if one pressure is in a healthier level, you are classed into the level where the higher number falls.

If you have Stage Two high blood pressure, you should be monitoring your blood pressure at home with a monitor as well as frequent check ups with your physician to monitor medication efficacy.

Test blood sugar to be sure.

Blood Sugar & Body Mass Index

Blood sugar levels determine whether or not your body produces enough insulin to process the sugars you eat. Blood sugar should be tested after you have fasted for at least eight hours. It is measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood. A desirable fasting blood sugar level is less than 100.

Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) determines whether or not you are overweight. It is a ratio of height to weight and provides general health information. By itself, BMI is only a general indicator of health. It does not apply equally to men and women, different frame builds, muscle mass, activity level or ethnicity, all of which affect BMI. BMI values are also not accurate for body builders or professional athletes.

Based on the National Institutes of Health guidelines, BMI scores fall into four categories:

  • Underweight: BMI less than 18.5
  • Healthy weight: BMI of 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight: BMI of 25.0-29.9
  • Obese: BMI of 30.0 or more

Ask Your Physician

Before you act on any of your numbers, ask your physician about what your numbers mean to your heart health and what you can do to improve them.


When was the last time you had all of your numbers checked? When was the last time you had your oil changed? How do your answers compare?


Disclaimer: Information provided in this blog post is not offered to replace, contradict or augment professional medical advice. Information is offered as a service to readers to encourage open dialogue between patient and health care provider. Please view full text of disclaimer in The Office located on the top menu bar.

(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2008-2012
Reblogging of this or any other post on Momma’s Money Matters is expressly forbidden.
Copyright and Privacy Policy available in The Office. 
Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. Very important to take stock of our numbers. Pay attention to ourselves as much as we do to others. Well written Red!

  2. Oh how I know these numbers. Not saying their all good either, the important thing is that people KNOW what they mean.
    Once again a very informative and needed post.
    Good work Red!

  3. BMI gets me every time! ugh…

  4. Excellent, helpful post. The pictures help so much! Thanks Red.

    • Glad you liked it, Elyse! I have not checked yet, have you put your blog in the Green Room, yet? Red.

  5. This is a very good posting Red
    and offers some excellent pointers
    towards high blood pressure the
    blood sugar and higher cholesterol
    that can all be easily checked via
    the doctors surgery…

    Blood pressure testing and a
    blood test can soon give one a
    better idea of how the years
    are taking their toll…

    have a relaxing and most wicked
    vacation Red and have lots of fun 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

    • Learning the numbers is so easy, I have no idea why more people do not do it more often. And I had a lovely vacation and then went again, just to treat the little ones, who also had a wonderful time! 😉 Red.

      • Welcome back Red 🙂 😉
        I am pleased that you had
        lots of wickedly nice fun…

        And had two breaks, how
        wonderful a vacation is that 🙂

        Androgoth XXx

        • I am so much happier than I was this time last week! Just the medicine I needed. Now, if I could get my friends together like that sooner than we did, it would be GREAT! I have plans soon to be in such good company again. Headed toward thwarting the bad attitude before it leaches into everything like it did this time. 🙂 Red.

  6. It’s a year and a half, but I don’t even know what mine are. Isn’t that shameful.

  1. One Star Wonder | Momma's Money Matters
  2. Take My Picture | The M3 Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.