Know Your Numbers: Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Do you know your numbers?  If you don't know where you stand with blood pressure and cholesterol, you could find yourself at a much greater risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Bernice Laland's "medical wake-up call" came after witnessing two people close to her encounter major health problems.  "My father had a massive heart attack at the age of 62 and nine years later," she says, "my husband had a heart attack and had to have surgery and he was 48."

So, for the past 15 years, Bernice has taken control of her own health by exercising regularly, eating right and staying on top of her blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.  "I do my numbers mostly at the doctor's office every six months to a year we have check-ups done," says Bernice, "and then I do my blood pressure at home with a cuff in between visits."

Dr. Richard Gilmore is a cardiologist at The Clinic in Lake Charles.  He sees the effects of people neglecting the maintenance of their numbers.  "Heart disease and stroke are in large part preventable diseases," says Dr. Gilmore, "and they're associated with known risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol."

Ideally, an adult should have a target range of 120/80 for blood pressure and cholesterol below 200 for most people. If the numbers are significantly higher, it's time to make changes to your daily habits.  "Healthy lifestyle interventions by following different fitness guidelines and achieving your ideal weight are non-medication ways that help with high blood pressure control and high cholesterol control," says Dr. Gilmore.

Home blood pressure monitors are a great way to take charge of your health issues.  Dr. Gilmore says this is especially important for women, who have many roles in and out of the home.  "They take care of their husband, they take care of their children," he says, "but they leave little time sometimes for their own healthcare.  Women need to realize that the best mother or the best wife that they can be is to take care of themselves."

Bernice says managing her health each day will keep her enjoying the things that matter most in her life.  "Taking care of yourself so that you can take care of your family, raise your children and enjoy your a good grandmother," says Bernice.

*Knowing your numbers is one of the 7 Healthy Habits as part of the Women's Health Network at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital.  If you are a woman looking to improve your total health and get support from some new gal pals, click here.