Holly Firfer, CNN:
The world is filled with digits. Phone numbers, passwords: all are important. But physicians say knowing your medical numbers is essential for living a healthier life.
So which numbers should you know?
Let's start with blood pressure.
"Blood pressure's important because it's a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, and those are some of the leading causes of death in the U.S.," says Dr. John Dooley, an internist.
Then there's your cholesterol. Know the difference between HDL and LDL.
"Higher levels of the LDL, which is the bad cholesterol, are associated with an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis disease, meaning heart attacks and strokes," Dooley says. "Whereas higher numbers of the HDL, or good cholesterol are associated with a lower risk."
And your weight and waist size are important for knowing your body mass index.
"Patients who are overweight, however that's measured, are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, arthritis, sleep apnea, acid reflux, and even cancers," Dooley says. "There are some estimates that between 15% and 20% of cancer deaths in the U.S. are attributable to obesity."
Blood sugar numbers can tell you whether you may be pre-diabetic.
"Diabetes is a major risk factor also for the development of heart disease, and other forms of vascular diseases and kidney disease," Dooley says
Knowing these numbers can help you work towards a healthier lifestyle.