Cholesterol is bad for your health: Myth or Fact? It is not entirely true as not all types of cholesterol are bad. Some types of cholesterol are essential for your body to perform specific functions such as synthesis of certain hormones. At the same time it is important to know what type of cholesterol is harmful to your body and how it can lead to certain health complications such as high blood pressure and heart diseases. Here, let’s focus on the link between high cholesterol and blood pressure. Read on to know more about how your cholesterol levels can impact blood pressure.Contents:
High cholesterol is when your blood has too much of a type of lipid substance called cholesterol. It is a waxy, fat-like substance that your liver produces naturally. You will also get some of it from the food you consume. It is found in every cell of your body and is essential for many life-sustaining functions like development of cell membranes, the production of certain hormones and vitamin D. High cholesterol is when the cholesterol levels in your blood are higher than normal.
Cholesterol does not dissolve in water and therefore requires certain proteins or its transportation through your blood. For this purpose your liver produces certain lipoproteins. The two major forms of lipoproteins are low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol). Too much LDL in the body contributes to the build-up of fatty plaques that can block your blood vessels and HDL on the other hand is beneficial and plays a role in transferring excess cholesterol back to the liver, where it is broken down and excreted out of the body.
Several factors that can contribute to high cholesterol include
Those who have a family history of high cholesterol are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
The risk of developing high cholesterol increases with age due to age-related metabolic changes in the body.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can increase the levels of LDL and lower the levels of HDL in the body. This can cause a rise in cholesterol levels.
Having a diet that is high in saturated fat and trans fat can lead to high cholesterol levels. Reducing the intake of these unhealthy fats can improve the levels of HDL (good cholesterol)that is beneficial for the body and reduce the level of LDL (bad cholesterol) that can lead to cholesterol build-up in your blood.
Being overweight or obese increases your chances of developing high cholesterol by raising your triglyceride levels. Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater can put you at risk of high cholesterol.
Smoking can increase your LDL levels and lower your HDL levels. Long term smoking can damage the cells that line your blood vessels, causing thickening and narrowing of your blood vessels. Further studies have found that a compound called acrolein that is found in cigarette smoke can impact your cholesterol levels.
Certain chronic health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease or thyroid problems can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol.
High cholesterol does not show any symptoms until it leads to complications such as a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol levels are usually detected through a blood test. You can perform a simple test called the “lipid profile” to get your cholesterol levels checked.
A cholesterol test or screening checks for the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), HDL (high-density lipoprotein), triglycerides (a type of fat that your body uses for energy) and total cholesterol (the total cholesterol in the body based on your LDL, HDL and triglyceride numbers).
Desirable Cholesterol Levels
Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL (low-density lipoproteins)
Less than 100 mg/dL
HDL (high-density lipoproteins)
Greater than or equal to 60 mg/dL
Less than 150 mg/dL
Knowing your cholesterol levels are important as it can increase your risk of developing certain chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and heart diseases. Let’s take a deeper look into how your cholesterol levels are linked to blood pressure
When excess cholesterol builds up in your bloodstream, fatty deposits or plaque tends to get deposited along your artery walls (atherosclerosis). This can make your arteries stiff and narrow. Narrowing of your arteries increases the resistance within them, interrupting the blood flow. Your blood pressure rises as it tries to flow past the resistance. As your arteries become narrow, it also puts an extra load on your heart increasing the risk of complications such as a heart attack or stroke.
As high cholesterol levels do not show symptoms until it leads to certain complications such as heart diseases, it is essential that you get yourself screened at regular intervals. Young adults can get their cholesterol levels checked at least once or twice before the age of 21. Cholesterol screenings can be done every 2 to 3 years for men aged 45 to 65 and women aged 55 to 65. For those who are at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol and those who are above the age of 65, a blood test can be performed once annually.
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