Harvard Women's Health Watch

6 numbers you absolutely need to know

To keep your heart disease risks in check, stay on top of these key health indicators.

You have so many important numbers to remember—your bank account PIN, your kids' phone numbers, and your alarm system code, just to name a few. Numbers that may be less familiar are the ones you learn when you see your doctor for a routine physical and blood tests—your waist circumference, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar. You need to know these six numbers because they provide important clues to your heart health.

Once you know your numbers, you can take steps to lessen your heart risks through some common-sense lifestyle changes. "The key is to focus on control of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and weight, to exercise and eat right, and to avoid tobacco. That is good advice for everyone trying to reduce their risk of heart disease," says Deepak Bhatt, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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