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Revealing your true health by using a numbers game

When it comes to managing our health, we all know it’s a numbers game.

“These are simple things for us to look at,” said Dr. David Delaney Elsner, a family physician at the HealthEast Roseville Clinic in Roseville, Minn. “Being aware of these things sooner rather than later can be very helpful for preventing long-term problems.”

Get to know these five barometers of wellness:

•Blood pressure: Less than 120/80

What it is: Measures the pressure of blood flowing through your arteries.

Why it’s important: Untreated high blood pressure, over time, greatly increases the chances of having a stroke, heart disease or kidney failure.

•Total cholesterol: Below 200 milligrams/dL

What it is: This number is a combination of high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and other fats in your blood.

Why it’s important: If there’s too much cholesterol in your blood, it keeps circulating and that bad cholesterol can eventually enter the blood-vessel walls. A buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries can block blood flow.

•Fasting blood sugar: Less than 100 milligrams/dL

What it is: Tells you what the sugar content is in your blood.

Why it’s important: Helps screen for diabetes.

•BMI: Less than 25

What it is: Stands for body-mass index. It’s a formula that takes your mass (in kilograms), divided by height (in meters squared). It helps determine if you’re at a normal weight.

Why it’s important: People who are overweight or obese are at a much higher risk for health problems such as high blood pressure. A BMI that’s under 18.5 is considered underweight, and might indicate an eating disorder.

•Waist size: Less than 35 inches (women); less than 40 inches (men).

What it is: The circumference around your belly – the area above your hipbone and below your ribcage.

Why it’s important: People with large waistlines have too much abdominal fat, putting them at a high risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary vascular disease.