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Know Your Health Data

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There are some numbers you need to know in order to stay healthy — but which ones — and how high or low should they be before you need to take action?

The following figures are intended as a guide to help you make sense medical test results. Of course, these cannot be an alternative to medical advice and we can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies.

Blood Pressure (systolic/diastolic mm Hg)

Low Normal Caution High Very High
Lower than 105/60 Between 105/60 and 120/80 Between 120/80 and 140/90 Between 140/90 and 160/100 Higher than 160/100

Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels. During each heartbeat, BP varies between a maximum (systolic) and a minimum (diastolic) pressure.

Heart Rate (beats per minute, at rest)

Very Good Normal Poor
Between 50 and 60 Between 60 and 90 Higher than 100

Cholesterol (mmol per litre)

Cholesterol results are often given as a total...

Ideal Caution Poor High Risk
Lower than 5.0 Between 5 and 6.5 Between 6.5 and 8 Above 8

...but this is complicated by the fact that there are two kinds of cholesterol: Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and High Density Lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is a bad type of cholesterol and HDL is good. LDL should be lower than 3 and HDL should be higher than 1:

Ideal Cholesterol Levels
Total Lower than 5.0 male, 4.5 female
Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Lower than 3.0
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Above 1.0 male, 1.1 female
Total/HDL Ratio Lower than 4.5

You can increase your HDL with exercise and reduce your LDL by cutting out saturated fats and eating monosaturated fats, but the impact of diet isn't as great as many people think — even if you ate no saturated fat at all, you might only reduce your figure by 5–10 per cent. A better approach is to eat regular amounts of plant sterols — the ingredients in products such as Flora Proactive and Benecol.

Intead of total cholesterol, a better measure is the ratio of the total cholesterol to HDL:

Total/HDL Ratios Ideal Caution Poor High Risk
Male Lower than 5.0 Between 5.0 and 6.5 Between 6.5 and 8.0 Above 8.0
Female Lower than 4.5 Between 4.5 and 5.9 Between 5.9 and 7.3 Above 7.3

Triglycerides (mmol per litre)

Triglycerides are the fats your body uses for energy and come from fatty foods. The the triglycerides that are not used are stored in the body's fatty tissues. Excess triglycerides in the blood can increase heart problems.

Normal Caution High High Risk
Lower than 1.69 Between 1.7 and 2.25 Between 2.26 and 5.65 Above 5.65

Body Mass Index — kg/m2

Underweight Normal Overweight Obese
Lower than 18.5 Between 18.5 and 25 Between 25 and 30 Between 30 and 40

Waist-to-Height Ratio — waist/height

Waist/Height Ratios Ideal Increased Risk High Risk
Male Lower than 0.50 Between 0.54 and 0.58 Above 0.58
Female Lower than 0.45 Between 0.49 and 0.54 Above 0.54

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