What Do Your Numbers Mean?

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What Do Your Numbers Mean?

Have you just gotten a report from your doctor and have absolutely no idea what it means? Not to worry, we’ve gathered all the basics here from the National Institutes of Health, the American Diabetes Association, and other health organizations to help you make sense of it all. Here’s a breakdown:

Body Mass Index

This is a measure of body fat in adults based on height and weight. Keep in mind that BMI doesn't take into account body composition. If you have solid bones and a lot of muscle, you may have a high BMI but not be overweight. On the flip side, if you have little muscle but a hefty amount of fat, you may have a low BMI but still be in danger of some health risks.

If your BMI is:

You’re considered:

Below 18.5


18.5 – 24.9

Healthy weight

25.0 – 29.9


30.0 and above



For most adults, a BMI in the overweight or obese categories is associated with a greater risk for many diseases, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Certain cancers (including endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver)
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea and other breathing problems


Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all your cells. It travels through your bloodstream in small packages called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the “bad” kind. A high level can buildup in the vessels that carry blood from your heart through your arteries to your body, blocking the arteries from doing their job. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the “good” kind, because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver, which removes it from your body. Triglycerides are another form of fat in your blood.

If your total cholesterol level is:

Your level is considered:

Less than 200 mg/dL


200-239 mg/dL

Borderline high

240 mg/dL and above



If your LDL cholesterol level is:
 Your level is considered:
Less than 100 mg/dL
100-129 mg/dL
Near optimal/above optimal
130-159 mg/dL
Borderline high
160-189 mg/dL
190 mg/dL and above
Very High


If your HDL cholesterol level is:
 Your level is considered:
Less than 40 mg/dL
Low (and your risk for heart disease high)
60 mg/dL or more
Good (and offers some protection against heart disease)


If your triglycerides are:
 Your level is considered:
150 – 199 mg/dL
Borderline high
200 mg/dL or more


Blood Pressure

As your heart pumps, the blood pushes against the walls of the arteries while it travels to the rest of your body. The force it creates is called blood pressure. The beat of your heart is called systolic pressure (the top number), and the rest between beats is called diastolic pressure (the bottom number). High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.

If your top number is:   If your bottom number is: Your pressure is considered:
119 or below and 79 and below Normal
120 - 139 or 80 - 89
140 - 159 or 90 - 99
High blood pressure (Stage 1)
160 or higher or 100 or higher
High blood pressure (Stage 2)


Fasting Blood Glucose (or Sugar)

Glucose is the main source of energy your body uses in order to fuel the cells.

 If your fasting blood glucose is:  It probably means:
Between 70 and 99 mg/dL Your blood sugar is normal
Between 100 to 125 mg/dL You have impaired fasting glucose (sometimes called pre-diabetes)
126 mg/dL and higher You have diabetes