Nicole obtained her PhD in Biochemisty and Molecule Biology from Rosalind Franklin University with a focus on Reproductive Physiology. She utilizes traditional and non-traditional science communication methods to educate and engage the Northwestern community on the importance of sex and gender inclusion in the biomedical and clinical fields. Her work varies from developing tools to help researchers incorporate sex as a biological variable in their research, to meeting with community members to discuss differences in their health and well-being based on their sex. Additionally, she oversees programming which promotes the advancement and retention of women in science in medicine no matter what stage in their career – from high school students to the tenured professor.
From phone numbers and addresses to loved one’s birthdays, we are very good at keeping track of certain numbers. However, the American Heart Association recommends adding a few more to that list in order to keep track of your heart health!
Total and HDL Cholesterol
Cholesterols are fat-like molecules that are found throughout our body. They are used as building blocks for hormones and important structural components to our cells. They are transported through our blood stream by two types of proteins: high density lipoproteins (HLD) and low density lipoproteins (LDL). Build-up of LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol contributes to atherosclerosis or plaque forming in the arteries, whereas HDL or “good” cholesterol carries cholesterol back to the liver where it is broken down and removed from the body. A blood test can determine your total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol numbers. You should discuss these numbers with your doctor to see how they impact your personal heart health.
To learn more about cholesterol, click here!
Blood pressure is a measurement which tells us how much force is being exerted on our blood vessels with every heartbeat. It is typically recorded as two numbers: The systolic and diastolic blood pressures. This accounts for the force when the heart is contracting (in systole) or relaxing (in diastole). Normal blood pressure for adults is defined as a systolic pressure of less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic pressure of less than 80 mmHg. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can be a significant risk factor for heart disease, so it’s important to know your blood pressure and discuss it with your doctor.
To learn more about blood pressure, click here!
Blood sugar refers to the amount of glucose, a type of sugar molecular, which is found in our blood. It is the major source of energy for our cells, so it is critical that our blood sugar remain within a certain range. Health problems can occur when blood sugar becomes too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). Normal fasting blood sugar levels should be between 70 – 100 mg/dL. People with high blood sugar who are pre-diabetic or diabetic are at greater risk for developing heart disease compared to those with normal blood sugar levels. Fasting blood sugar levels can be determined by a simple blood test taken at your doctor’s office.
To learn more about blood sugar, click here!
Body Mass Index
Being overweight or obese can also increase the risk of developing heart disease. Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of body fat which can be used to help you and your healthcare providers determine if you need to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a BMI calculator tool you can use along with additional resources for weight management.