With my father-in-law Paul becoming the first centenerian in the family, I thought it would be interesting to reflect on some of the factors that increase the likelihood of making it to a 100 years, inclusive of a sound body and peaceful mind. In this blog, I focus on 5 blood levels to aim for. They may not all be easy to attain but at least are easy to remember because they all contain the number “100”. The earlier you start in life, the better.
- Aim for a systolic blood pressure (SBP) in the low 100 range. The systolic pressure (top number) reflects the force of blood pushed through your main artery (aorta) during heart contraction. A normal systolic pressure ranges between ~100-110 mmHg with hypertension now defined by an SBP of at least 130 mmHg. For each 20 mmHg increase in SBP, the risk of heart related issues double. If you have high blood pressure for many years, discuss with your physician the best level for you bringing your systolic down to the low 100 range may be too low if you have had many years of high-very high blood pressure. In these cases, lowering systolic to ~120-130 mmHg (or higher depending upon other factors), may be more suitable.
- Aim for a fasting blood glucose (FBG) below 100. A normal fasting glucose is less than 100 mg/dL, levels between 100-125 mg/dL represent “prediabetes” and FBG exceeding 125 mg/dL signifies diabetes. If you have been recently diagnosed with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes and are overweight, losing 5-10% body weight through lifestyle changes (such as a low carb diet and increased physical activity) may help to bring these levels down to a normal range. The longer you have Type 2 diabetes, the greater the risk of heart related issues. Ten years represents the tipping point after which time, annual risk rises more sharply.
- Aim for an LDL (bad cholesterol) below 100. At birth, LDL cholesterol levels are typically ~30 mg/dL and a normal or “physiologic” level of LDL in adulthood is well below 100 mg/dL. As LDL levels increase, the risk of heart related issues also increases; most importantly, lowering these levels also reduces risk.
- Aim for a triglyceride (blood fat) level below 100. Triglycerides are less well known than LDL though both are measured when a cholesterol or lipid panel is drawn. In one of our earlier research studies we found that a triglyceride level below 100 mg/dL was associated with a 50% lower likelihood of future heart related events.
- Aim for an HDL (good cholesterol) at or above 100. This will be the hardest to attain but is included because we recently discovered that a high HDL is most protective to the heart when all other factors are normal. In other words, a high HDL is better than a normal or low HDL when levels of blood pressure, fasting glucose, LDL and triglycerides are also normal.
- For natural ways to reduce blood pressure, glucose, LDL and triglycerides check out “Heal Your Heart“
- Dr. Michael Miller is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore where he takes care of patients, conducts original research and teaches medical students. His book “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” has been Amazon’s Top Rated book in heart disease for the past 3 years.