Reading 4 min.
in collaboration with
Dr Gérald Kierzek (Medical Director)
Knowing your health inside out is not necessarily easy. But taking stock of certain indicators, whatever your age, can save your life. Here are 7 figures to know according to Dr. Gérald Kierzek, medical director of Doctissimo.
Number of hours of sleep, steps taken in a day, or fruits and vegetables consumed… There is no shortage of health indicators used to better understand your shape. However, there are actually only 7 essential numbers that can indicate whether you are healthy. “Most of these are figures that you can obtain at home, without needing a lot of equipment, which is why it’s interesting.” mentions Dr. Kierzek, emergency physician and medical director of Doctissimo.
Your blood pressure
High blood pressure is a silent killer that can put extra strain on blood vessels, heart, kidneys, brain and eyes and increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. This is why it is important to make sure your blood pressure does not exceed 120/80 mmHg.
The result is given as two numbers, systolic and diastolic. Systolic, the highest number, refers to the pressure exerted by the heart as it pushes blood out and around the body. Diastolic is the pressure when the heart rests between beats and blood circulates around the heart.
- A normal reading is considered to be between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg. Anything above 140/80 mmHg is technically considered high;
- Below 89/59 mmHg, we speak of hypotension which may require medical treatment;
- Values between 121/81 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg can be a precursor to hypertension unless steps are taken to control it, such as reducing salt intake, losing weight, exercising regularly, drink less caffeine and not smoke.
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to good health. However, almost half of French people (47%) are considered overweight today. Which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. BMI is the most widely used method to check if you are at a healthy weight.
It is measured by taking your height and weight. BMI is calculated by dividing an adult’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared.
- A BMI of 18.5 corresponds to underweight;
- A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 corresponds to a healthy weight;
- A BMI of 25 to 29.9 corresponds to overweight;
- A BMI of 30 or more indicates obesity.
But many experts point out, however, that this method has its limitations, because it can determine whether a person has too much weight but not too much fat.
Your waist-to-hip ratio
Controlling your weight is about more than just tracking your BMI. The shape of your body and where it stores fat is also important.
The waist-to-hip ratio is calculated by measuring the circumference of your waist and comparing it to the circumference of your hips. To calculate it, simply measure the hips at the widest point around the buttocks and measure the waist just above the belly button.
Next, divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement. The higher the ratio (greater than 0.90 for men and 0.85 for women) the more fat is stored around your waist or abdomen
Your heart rate
Heart rate is also a figure to know for your information but also to detect a possible problem, at home or with your doctor. Heart rate generally varies between 60 and 100 beats per minute depending on the person.“It is also useful to know if its frequency is regular or irregular” adds our expert.
It is calculated by placing three fingers (the index, middle and ring fingers) along the carotid artery, at the level of the neck or two fingers (the index and middle fingers) on the radial artery, at the level on the wrist, or using a connected watch.
Your oxygen saturation level
Here is another indicator that was talked about a lot during the Covid-19 epidemic. The oxygen saturation rate corresponds to the quantity of oxygen transported by the blood in our body and can be calculated with a simple device called a saturometer or pulse oximeter.
- The oxygen saturation level is considered normal when it is between 95% and 100%;
- Below 95%, the rate is insufficient: we speak of hypoxemia (decrease in oxygenation);
- Below 90%, the situation is critical: we speak of desaturation.
“The important thing is to know your base number. So when you have a cold or pneumonia and it goes down, you know it’s time to worry.”
Beyond these figures that you can easily obtain, two analyzes are also important.
Your cholesterol level
Finally, two other measurements appear important today for judging your health, but are the result of an analysis, and cannot be known at home.
It’s about cholesterol levels, which can accumulate in the blood and cause blockage of vessels without any symptoms. Total cholesterol, i.e. the overall amount of cholesterol in the blood, must be equal to or less than 5 mmoI/L. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as “good” because of its cleansing role inside the body, should be at least 1 mmoI/L for men and at least 1.2 mmoI/L for women. LDL cholesterol – the “bad cholesterol” – must be equal to or lower than 4 mmoI/L.
Your blood sugar
Finally, high blood sugar could be an indicator of type 2 diabetes. A simple blood test that checks glucose levels is used to detect prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The most accurate test is the Hba1C blood test, which allows you to calculate the average blood sugar level over three months.
- A normal Hba1C score is considered to be less than 42 mmol/mol;
- Between 42 and 47 mmol/mol indicates hyperglycemia or prediabetes;
- If it is above 48 mmol/mol, it could mean you have diabetes.
A healthy diet is recommended to manage blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetic patients are advised to reduce their sugar, fat and salt intake to a minimum.