How healthy am I? It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves. Learning the answer is easier than you may think.
You can quickly gauge your health status through screenings for height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose. These tests may prove you are on the path to good health, or they may reveal a more serious health condition, like metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that occur together, increasing your risk for developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your risk.
According to medical guidelines, you have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of these risk factors:
• Elevated blood pressure, defined as greater than 130 over 85
• High triglyceride level, which is the level of fat found in your blood. A number greater than 150 is too high.
• Raised blood sugar, or glucose levels, of more than 110.
• Low HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol. Men’s levels should be above 40, and women’s should be above 50.
• A waist measurement of more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men
“Blood pressure, glucose or cholesterol levels that are not within the healthy range may indicate the presence of conditions such as hypertension or prediabetes,” says Lonny Reisman, chief medical officer at Aetna. “These conditions can be managed with a combination of diet, exercise or medication.”
Healthy lifestyle changes can reduce or reverse the effects of metabolic syndrome. And the earlier you make changes, the easier it will be to reverse the impact of a serious condition such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
If you have one or more of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome, you should talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend taking action, which may include:
• Losing weight. Losing even 10 percent of your body weight can really help.
• Exercising more often. Increasing your physical activity - striving for at least 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week - is one of the best things you can do for your health.
• Adopting healthy eating habits. Your food plan should include lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and dairy, and heart-healthy fats like olive oil, fish and nuts. Avoid lots of sugar and heavily processed foods.
To read more about metabolic syndrome or to learn what you can do to reach your best possible health, visit aetna.com.