5 numbers to know to determine heart disease risk

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There are five essential numbers you need to know to determine your risk for heart disease: blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar and weight. (KABC)

We all have memorized a lot of numbers by heart - like birthdays, phone numbers and passwords, but how much do you know about the numbers critical to your health?

There are five essential numbers you need to know to determine your risk for heart disease.

Maybe you haven't been a fan of checking your weight or your waist size, but experts found there are five numbers that should be on the tip of your tongue.

One is your blood pressure.

"My blood pressure is a little bit high," said 52-year-old Juana Garcia, of North Hollywood.

Garcia believed it would be a lot higher if she didn't get it checked regularly.

Less than half of Americans know a healthy blood pressure reading should be less than 120/80. Nurse practitioner Jeanette Sirkin runs into this daily.

"I come across people all the time that say they haven't had their numbers checked ever or (within the last) five, 10, 15 years sometimes," Sirkin said.

According to Sirkin, if you don't "know your numbers" - you're less likely to take action. Beyond blood pressure, there's also blood sugar and BMI.

CVS teamed up with the American Heart Association and will be offering free heart screenings at their minute clinics on Valentine's Day.

A recent Cleveland Clinic survey found 46 percent of respondents knew how much money was in their bank account. But only 38 percent knew their blood pressure and only 18 percent knew their BMI.

A body mass index above 25 increases your risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes. To test cholesterol, all it takes is a quick finger prick.

Many people think as long as your overall numbers are under 200 you're okay. But Sirkin said you need to know the breakdown.

"The LDL and the triglycerides are two bad cholesterols. So, you definitely want to see where you are with the bad ones because those are the ones," he said.

You can lower your risk for most diseases by eating healthy and doing moderate exercise.

Garcia said knowing her numbers made her feel like she's in control.

"It makes me feel better that I'll be around when my grandchildren are here," she said.
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