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4 Heart Health Numbers You Should Know

  • Category: In The News
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  • Written By: Michelle Civello, APRN, FNP-BC


It is American Heart month…do you know YOUR numbers?

Throughout my years of practice I’ve learned that a lot of my patients do not know or understand their important heart numbers like cholesterol levels. In an effort to shed light on the subject, I recently had my lipid panel done and wanted to share the results with you. I invited my friend and North Oaks Cardiologist, Jherie D. Ducombs, MD to provide some insight into my results.

What is a lipid panel?

A lipid panel is a simple blood test that determines the level of fat and cholesterol in your blood. High levels of cholesterol can put you at higher risk for heart disease, heart attack, diabetes and stroke. People with high cholesterol are also more likely to have severe complications from inflammatory illnesses, like COVID-19 and the flu. A lipid panel measures 4 things:

  • HDL (good) cholesterol
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Triglycerides (the most common type of fat in your body)
  • Total cholesterol - a composite of your HDL, LDL and 20% of your triglyceride level

Your primary care doctor, or PCP, can order these tests for you. Below is a chart that depicts the ranges for this test.

The Results

Although my total cholesterol reading was a little high, Dr. Ducombs used the other lipid results and risk factors, like my family and personal medical history, to evaluate my overall heart health. My triglycerides, LDL, HDL, as well as my recent blood pressure readings were all normal. I was pleased to learn I am not a candidate for a cholesterol-reducing medication at this time. She encouraged me to keep up the good work.

Heart Healthy Lifestyle

If you find your cholesterol results are not in the ideal range, Dr. Ducombs always recommends lifestyle changes first. Some of the lifestyle changes that can make a positive impact on your heart health are:

Now that I have shared my experience, I encourage all of you to ask your PCP to help you learn about your heart numbers. Knowing your cholesterol status can help you ensure a healthy future.

Hello from Civello is a monthly wellness blog written by Michelle Civello, APRN, FNP-BC. Michelle is a family nurse practitioner with Northshore Internal Medicine Associates in Hammond, where she treats patients 4 years and older. In her practice, Michelle believes that open dialogue and individualized care are the best ways to motivate her patients and improve their health outcomes.

A veteran of the Louisiana Air National Guard, Michelle enjoys spending time with family and friends, taking care of her many four-legged friends, gardening, yoga, staying active and traveling. Get to know Michelle at