Heart-Healthy Living
Heart-Healthy Living

Heart-Healthy Living Get Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Checked

Two of the major risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. If either of these numbers is high, work with your doctor to get it to a healthy range.

High blood pressure

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and your blood vessels and lead to plaque buildup.

Most adults should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year. If you have high blood pressure, you will likely need to be checked more often. Talk with your provider about how often you should have your blood pressure checked.

Your provider will measure your blood pressure to see if it is higher than is recommended. The reading is made up of two numbers, with the systolic number above the diastolic number. These numbers are measures of pressure in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

This video shows the steps to expect when having your blood pressure measured, from what to avoid before the test to writing down the results afterwards.

Your blood pressure is considered high when you have consistent systolic readings of 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic readings of 90 mm Hg or higher. Based on research, your provider may also consider you to have high blood pressure if you are an adult or child age 13 or older who has consistent systolic readings of 130 to 139 mm Hg or diastolic readings of 80 to 89 mm Hg and you have other risk factors for heart disease.

If your blood pressure is high, your provider will suggest lifestyle changes and may prescribe medicines.

You can track your blood pressure progress with our Tracking Your Numbers worksheet and bring it with you whenever you have your blood pressure taken.

Tracking Your Numbers

Tracking Your Numbers

Track your blood pressure progress with the Tracking Your Numbers worksheet.

High blood cholesterol

High blood cholesterol is a condition in which your blood has unhealthy levels of cholesterol—a waxy, fat-like substance.

Many factors affect your cholesterol levels. For example, age, sex, eating patterns, and physical activity level can affect your cholesterol levels. Children also can have unhealthy cholesterol levels, especially if they have overweight or obesity or their parents have high blood cholesterol.

A blood test can show whether your cholesterol levels are healthy. Talk with your provider about having your cholesterol tested and how often you need it tested. Your cholesterol numbers will include total cholesterol, “bad”  LDL cholesterol  and “good”  HDL cholesterol , and triglycerides . Ask your provider what these numbers mean for you.

If you have unhealthy cholesterol levels, your provider may suggest the lifestyle changes discussed in this topic. If heart-healthy lifestyle changes alone are not enough, your provider may prescribe a statin or other medicine to help manage your cholesterol levels.

TLC booklet

Your Guide to Lowering Cholesterol With Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC)

The TLC guide is a set of tools, including lifestyle changes and sample menus, you can use to help lower your cholesterol.

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