Dr. Iva Smolens explains the three most important things a woman should ask her doctor when discussing heart disease.
Read the full transcript »
If I can give you some information about what to address with your physician, here are three things that you need to ask, and it falls under the category of “know your numbers.” Know what your blood pressure is. Blood pressure is listed as high, anything greater than 140/90 and should be treated for that. Actually anything over 120/80 is considered high now. That’s a new criteria and we need to be aware of that. In terms of starting therapy, anybody with a blood pressure over 140/90 probably should be considered for pharmacotherapy or medical therapy. Anybody in that category in between with diabetes or high blood pressure should be considered for pharmacotherapy and lifestyle modification to alter that blood pressure to get it under better control. Know your cholesterol, your good and your bad cholesterol numbers; that’s your HDL and your LDL. What’s considered acceptable now is different than what it was a few years ago and so you need to know those numbers as well. LDL and HDL together added up form your total cholesterol. The total cholesterol number is not really the number that you should focus on. HDL, the good cholesterol, if it’s high, greater than 70, can actually push your total cholesterol number up to an elevated level, but it really is not indicative that you have a lot of bad cholesterol. You really want to focus on your LDL, which is the bad cholesterol number. Again, these numbers are new. It used to be thought that anything over 130 was considered high or bad. Now the cut-off number is at 100 and people at high risk, you really want that number to be less than 70. That’s a really critical number to be aware of because if you have any risk factors, you really want to drive that number down even if it requires medical therapy. And the last thing that you should ask about is your Body Mass Index. It’s a calculated number based on your height and your weight and you can actually even figure that out before you go to the physician’s office with one of the calculators that you can find online. Just know your own weight and your height and there’s a classification scale for obesity or even being overweight, and you want to get your Body Mass Index in the normal range. So the three things that you need to ask your physician before you leave the office to know your numbers is your blood pressure, your good and bad cholesterol numbers, and your weight so you can calculate your Body Mass Index. Those are three things that you can discuss with your physician at the time of your routine physical and make sure they are in check and within normal range.