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    South Asian Wellness Program:
    Glossary of Terms

    Body mass index (BMI)

    Obesity, or having too much body fat, is determined by calculating your body mass index (BMI), which measures weight for height and is stated in numbers. Since very little excess weight goes a long way towards increasing a South Asian's risk of developing diabetes and heart disease, a modified body mass index (BMI) scale has been developed for this demographic:

    Healthy: 18.5 to 23
    Overweight: 23 to 25
    Obese: Greater than 25
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    Metabolic syndrome

    This term describes a dangerous collection of risk factors that significantly increases the risk for heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. It is estimated that 50 percent of Asian Indians have metabolic syndrome. All South Asians should see their personal health care provider for blood tests that can identify this condition.
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    Cholesterol

    Cholesterol is a type of fat and an essential nutrient that your body needs to build and repair tissues. Cholesterol levels that are too high can lead to heart disease and stroke.
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    Blood pressure

    Blood pressure refers to the force of blood against the walls of your arteries as it flows through your body. Your blood pressure naturally rises and falls with changes in your emotions and activity. However, blood pressure that remains high, called hypertension, can overwork your heart and threaten your health.

    Understanding the Numbers:

    Example: 120/80 -- usually referred to as 120 over 80

    Systolic -- The first number, 120 in the example, is your systolic blood pressure or the pressure when your heart is squeezing out blood.

    Diastolic -- The second number, 80 in the example, is your diastolic blood pressure or the pressure when your heart is filling with blood.
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    Glucose (blood sugar)

    Glucose is the type of sugar that your body uses for energy.
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    HDL (good cholesterol)

    High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered "good" cholesterol. It transports blood cholesterol to the liver, where it can be eliminated from the body rather than building up in blood vessels.
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    LDL (bad cholesterol)

    Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is considered "bad" cholesterol. It is responsible for causing plaque buildup that can block arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke.
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    Sodium

    Sodium is a mineral used by the body as an important electrolyte. Electrolytes maintain a proper balance of fluids in the body and normal electrical functioning of muscles, the heart and the brain. Sodium helps regulate the balance of water between the outside and inside of cell walls. It also plays an important role in nerve and muscle functioning. Too much sodium in the diet can worsen high blood pressure in some people and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney damage. Sodium level can be measured through a blood test. Sodium values at the borderlines of the reference range may be normal for some individuals.

    Last reviewed: 2012

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