Getting in check: Knowing key numbers can put you on path to good health

Getting in check: Knowing key numbers can put you on path to good health

Less than 7 percent of American adults have optimal cardiometabolic health, and the outlook is bleak, according to a study published earlier this year in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“Between 1999-2000 and 2017-2018, U.S. cardiometabolic health has been poor and worsening, with only 6.8 percent of adults having optimal cardiometabolic health, and disparities by age, sex, education and race/ethnicity,” the study concludes. “These novel findings inform the need for nationwide clinical and public health interventions to improve cardiometabolic health and health equity.”

A person’s cardiometabolic health collectively describes the risk factors they have for developing heart and vascular disease. That risk includes metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions—such as obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and insulin resistance—that together lead to diabetes, stroke and heart disease. In the United States, about 1 in 3 adults has metabolic syndrome, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

According to Christy Cleveland, RN, health and wellness coordinator with Community Healthcare System, a person with at least three of the following traits may have metabolic syndrome:

  • A waistline that measures greater than 35 inches for women and greater than 40 inches for men
  • Triglycerides 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or greater
  • HDL “good” cholesterol less than 50 mg/dl in women and less than 40 mg/dl in men
  • Blood pressure of 130/85 or higher
  • Fasting blood sugar of 100 mg/dl or higher

Community Healthcare System offers tests, programs and top medical interventions to help people bring their numbers into a healthy range and maintain those levels.

“I’m excited to encourage the community to attend our many different health fairs as we offer vouchers for free lipids and fasting glucose,” Cleveland said. “We also do diabetes screenings and offer a variety of classes to help manage diabetes.”

Community Healthcare System offers metabolic testing at the Valparaiso Family YMCA, 1201 Cumberland Crossing, Valparaiso. 

“Getting the metabolic testing done can help people know specifically the number of calories their bodies need to achieve realistic weight loss goals and improve overall health,” Cleveland said. “It can also screen to identify slow metabolism.”

Cleveland coaches patients who have slow metabolism and develops plans to increase their metabolism, helping them burn calories at a faster rate.

“Weight loss can affect our risk of developing diabetes, lower our blood pressure and increase our HDL (good) cholesterol,” Cleveland said.

Food choices and exercise play a strong role in metabolic health.

“The foods we choose are our fuel,” Cleveland said. “If we put the right fuel in our tank, we will be the most efficient.”

Occasionally, she uses an app to enter the foods she is eating to “spot check” what she is consuming to confirm her nutrition is balanced. 

“The other priority is getting the recommended amount of exercise,” she said. “‘Move more and sit less’ is good advice to follow.”

The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity aerobic activity, or a combination of both. 

Moderate-intensity aerobic activities include dancing, brisk walking, gardening and water aerobics. Examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activities include running, swimming laps, jumping rope and hiking uphill or with a heavy backpack.

Add muscle-strengthening activity, such as weights or resistance, twice a week.

“If you are overweight or obese, attempting to lose weight can help decrease or prevent complications associated with metabolic syndrome,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland offers individualized lifestyle coaching at the Valparaiso Family YMCA.

“Whether it is for weight loss, cardiac health, blood pressure management or just learning to be healthy, it is a lifestyle change for long-term health,” she said. “I base it on each person’s goals and health history, so it is individualized to each person. I was a cardiac rehabilitation nurse for many years, so I really enjoy helping coach folks on their risk factors of heart disease, then making a plan for lifestyle changes.”

Screening for metabolic syndrome can give patients a snapshot of their health so they can identify areas of concern and create a plan for improvement.

“If we choose to make these suggested changes, we can decrease our risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” she said.

For testing

To schedule a metabolic testing screening, call 219-462-4185, ext. 262.