Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is a precursor for many steroids and part of the cell membranes. It is beneficial as long as the body can maintain the optimal level and ratio of the different cholesterols. There are 3 cholesterol types- LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. While the HDL is beneficial for the body the other 2 varieties are harmful when present in a higher amount. It is the high levels of these cholesterol types- LDL and triglycerides that we often call high cholesterol.
One of the after effects of high cholesterol is high blood pressure. Though there are other causes for the elevated blood pressure, cholesterol is one of the common reasons.
What Happens When There Is High Cholesterol In Blood?
When the cholesterol level more than 200 mg/dL it is termed borderline high and when it crosses 240 it is definitely high cholesterol. The major reason for this hike is the higher levels of LDL cholesterol that can cause plaque formation on the artery walls. High triglyceride levels can lead to not just blood pressure but high sugar as well.
Having just high cholesterol may not always lead to higher blood pressure. When it happens, it happens over a period of time and after some series of events. This is how it happens.
Cholesterol Causes Plaque Formation
High cholesterol leads to fatty deposition on artery walls. Over the period of time, the plaque would thicken in size and harden. This would narrow down the space inside the blood vessels and would block the smooth flow of the blood through them.
This Affects The Heart Functioning
Our heart is continually pumping blood to all parts of the body. The plaque formation and narrowing of the blood vessels can hinder the normal blood flow. In order to keep up the normal flow, the heart pumps the blood harder and with higher pressure. This is what we call high blood pressure.
Prolonged Situation Affects The Heart
When the blocked blood path is prolonged for a long time, it can lead to damage of the arteries as well. The high blood pressure with the plaques from high cholesterol can break off and the pieces could completely block the blood flow. This when happens to the key organs could damage them, blockage of the coronary artery can lead to heart attack and that to the brain leads to stroke.
Cholesterol-Blood Pressure Link Does Not Happen Overnight
Having high cholesterol may have no symptoms. It is hard to find unless you do the blood tests. When the high cholesterol level goes unnoticed for a long time it could accumulate and lead to the above-mentioned situations.
The subsequent high blood pressure situation can happen after a long time or too sooner depending on the cholesterol level. Either way, there is still time for you to prevent and remedy it before it can go out of control.
The plaque buildup takes time. There are medications as well as natural remedies that can not only lower the cholesterol but also reverse the plaque formation.
Knowing your cholesterol levels and the blood pressure regularly can help control them easily and before it can cause any damage to the heart. A healthy lifestyle is all that you need to control them. Regular exercises and proper as well as controlled diet is the key to healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
How To Control Cholesterol And High Blood Pressure
The primary step towards lowering cholesterol and blood pressure is to avoid smoking, alcohol, fatty food, and sodium. Apart from cholesterol, sodium is another major factor for high blood pressure. All other factors that are to avoid can promote cholesterol formation and directly causing blood pressure. The other methods are,
- Cut down the sugar and sweet treats: Sugar adds to the formation of triglycerides in the blood that contributes to the total cholesterol level. This can also cause high blood pressure due to metabolic disorders.
- Avoid fatty foods: Fatty foods would have a good amount of cholesterol in it that can lead to more cholesterol formation in the blood. At the same time, there are good fats as well. Include the good fats like unsaturated fat from olive oil, omega fatty acids etc. It can naturally lower the bad cholesterol.
- Lose weight: The fat accumulation in the waistline is a major contributor to cholesterol. Losing weight will reduce the waist size and lower the chances of cholesterol formation.
- Add more soluble fiber: Soluble fiber can attach to the cholesterol in the blood and eliminate them or prevent them from forming the plaques.
- Regular exercises will increase the blood flow and lower the cholesterol level. You must do some cardio workouts to get the best results.
The Gender Also Matters
Older men and premenopausal as well as menopausal women are more prone to the high cholesterol levels and the high blood pressure. In women over the age of 45-55 years, the lower estrogen can contribute to the elevation of LDL. In men, the cholesterol level usually increases with their age.
Age is a sensitive factor for both the genders as far as cholesterol level is concerned. One may not develop high cholesterol just because of the age or gender, but the risk increases with these factors.
Bottom line is that cholesterol and blood pressure are more part f the lifestyle, diet as well as the family history. If you think you are vulnerable to any of these risk factors, you need to be more careful and go for regular checkups. The cholesterol can be a tricky player that does not show its face until it is too much to handle. You MUST check the blood cholesterol at least once in 2 years to know where you stand. This would help you control it faster than it can cause you any damage.