1. Health

Top 10 Lifestyle Indicators in Your 40s

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Updated June 15, 2007

Your 40s are a busy decade with career, family and financial responsibilities colliding. Meanwhile poor lifestyle choices begin to catch up with you and chronic illness is not far behind. Use these home and blood tests to monitor your health and prevent health conditions from developing.

1. Stress Level

You 40s may be filled with responsibilities -- financial, career, taking care of children and/or parents. These stresses can add up and impact your overall health both directly and through causing you to may poor lifestyle choices.
  • Indicates: The amount your body reacts to situations causing stress hormones and other damage that contributes to chronic illness.
  • Measured by: Examining your anger and stress reactions to daily situations like heavy traffic.
  • Healthy Level: You should not have extreme reactions to situations that occur regularly.
  • What to Do If Levels are High: Think about ways to reduce your daily stress.

2. Exercise Level

You are probably a busy person. It might be difficult to find time to exercise.
  • Indicates: Your overall health.
  • Measured by: Weekly exercise frequency and daily activity level.
  • Healthy Level: If you are not exercising at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week, your risk of all chronic illnesses is increased.
  • What to Do If Levels are Low: Reserve the time for exercise, you owe it to yourself and you owe to your family.

3. Blood Pressure

Blood Pressure is one of the easiest and most important indicates of heart and cardiovascular health. According to the CDC, 30% of adults have high blood pressure and 30% of those do not know it.
  • Indicates: General cardiovascular health.
  • Measured by: Home blood pressure monitors are inexpensive and easy to use. Check your blood pressure monthly.
  • Healthy Level: Healthy blood pressure should have a systolic (top number) of no more than 119 and a diastolic (bottom number) of no more than 79.
  • What to Do If Levels are High: Take action through lifestyle change and/or medical treatment.

4. Cholesterol Level

There are two kinds of cholesterol commonly measured, HDL and LDL.
  • Indicates: Your cholesterol level indicates the amount of a certain kind of fat in your blood.
  • Measured by: Simple blood test for the total cholesterol and the amount for both HDL and LDL.
  • Healthy Level:
    • Total Cholesterol (HDL+LDL): less than 200.
    • HDL (good cholesterol): more than 40.
    • What to Do If Levels are High: High cholesterol is a medical condition that requires treatment die to an increased risk of heart attack. See your doctor and change your diet.

5. Resting Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate indicates the fitness of your heart. Because the heart is a muscle, exercise such as running or biking will make it stronger.
  • Indicates: Heart health
  • Measured by: Taking your pulse at the thumb side of your wrist after sitting calmly for at least 5 minutes.
  • Healthy Level: Your resting pulse should be no higher than 80 beats per minute.
  • What to Do If Levels are High: If your resting pulse is high, your heart needs some attention, consult your doctor about beginning cardiovascular exercise to help improve your heart's functioning.

6. Fasting Blood Glucose

Fasting blood glucose tests how well your body can regulate blood sugar levels. High levels could mean that you are at risk or have diabetes.
  • Indicates: The level of glucose (sugar) in your blood.
  • Measured by: A simple blood test through a finger prick.
  • Healthy Level: Less than 100.
  • What to Do If Levels are High: See your doctor for further testing.

7. Hip-to-Waist Ratio

Where you carry extra weight is almost as important as how much extra weight you have.
  • Indicates: Risk of heart disease.
  • Measured by: Measure your hip-to-waist ratio by measuring your waist in inches at the smallest point (without holding your breath or pulling in) and then measuring your hips at the widest point. Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement.
  • Healthy Level: If the ratio is greater than .80 for women or .95 for men, it is considered risky for weight-related illnesses.
  • What to Do If Levels are High: Take action to lose excess weight, take care of your heart, and exercise more.

8. Triglyceride Level

Triglyceride level is relatively new test to examine your risk for certain types of cardiovascular disease.
  • Indicates: Your triglyceride level is another indicator of excess fat in the blood.
  • Measured by: A simple blood test.
  • Healthy Level: Normal levels should be less than 150 with the borderline levels between 150 and 199.
  • What to Do If Levels are High: High levels indicate the need for lifestyle changes including healthy eating and exercise.

9. C-Reactive Protein Levels

Also called CRP, the C-reactive protein level indicates acute inflammation (swelling) in the body. Because the CRP level is based on acute inflammation, this test might be able to show a more immediate risk of heart attack. Studies are still being done to determine how useful this test is.
  • Indicates: Acute swelling and risk of heart attack.
  • Measured by: A simple blood test.
  • Healthy Level: No more than 4.9 mg/L (ideally less than 2 mg/L)
  • What to Do If Levels are High: Take action to improve heart health through dietary and exercise changes.

10. Homocysteine

Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood could also indicate the risk of cardiovascular disease, including stroke.
  • Indicates:Risk of stroke and heart disease.
  • Measured by: A simple blood test.
  • Healthy Level: Less than 12.
  • What to Do If Levels are High: Decrease your homocysteine levels through a healthy diet of vegetables, whole grains, folic acid and vitamin B6 and B12.

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