High blood pressure and high cholesterol are both directly linked to an inactive, sedentary lifestyle and poor diet. Unfortunately, millions with high cholesterol also suffer from high blood pressure, raising the question of whether or not there is a direct correlation between the two conditions.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two main reasons for heart disease and stroke. Although these are common and preventable, nearly two-thirds of adults with high cholesterol and half with high blood pressure have been unable to control it. As a result, more must be done to address these health risks.
It is vital to take action when you have more than one risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.
These risk factors don’t act independently – they work together to cause more damage to your blood vessels and heart. If left uncontrolled, they can lead to severe consequences such as heart attack, stroke, kidney malfunction, and vision loss. So, if you have two or more risk factors, it is essential to make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk and protect your health.
High Cholesterol – An Overview
If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, your blood contains a higher amount of cholesterol than is considered healthy.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that the body needs to make hormones, produce vitamin D, and create healthy cells. We generate some of it in our bodies, while some come from our food. However, too much cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.
When the cholesterol is too high, it can stick to the walls of the arteries, forming a fatty buildup that hardens over time. It creates a plaque that can damage the arteries, making them stiff and narrow and causing the blood not to flow as smoothly. If an artery becomes too narrow, a blood clot can block blood flow, leading to a severe cardiovascular event.
Genetics and lifestyle factors can lead to high cholesterol, with several different genes associated with this condition. Eating a diet high in cholesterol and saturated fat, not getting enough exercise, and smoking are all contributing lifestyle factors. Additionally, certain diseases and medications, such as low thyroid hormone levels, nephrotic syndrome, steroids, protease inhibitors, and certain birth control pills, can all cause high cholesterol.
Understanding the Relationship Between Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
If you have been diagnosed with high blood cholesterol, you may already be taking medications and making lifestyle changes to help reduce your levels. However, paying attention to your blood pressure is also essential since individuals with high cholesterol often end up dealing with high blood pressure too.
The CDC reports that about half of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure, yet only half receive the appropriate treatment. Additionally, two-thirds of American adults suffer from high cholesterol, with only one-third receiving the necessary treatment.
So, what is high blood pressure? The American Heart Association states that hypertension is when the pressure of the blood against the walls of the blood vessels is too high.
To explain further, think of an old garden hose, full of dirt and stiff with age. You must turn the faucet high to get the water out with enough pressure. Similarly, if you have high blood pressure, your heart and arteries must work harder to pump the blood through them because the arteries are narrowed due to cholesterol buildup.
It forces your heart to turn the faucet up to high and blast the blood through to get enough oxygen and nutrients out to all the body organs that need it, which increases your blood pressure.
The long-term effects of high blood pressure can be damaging to your arteries and other blood vessels, as they cannot carry a constant, high-pressure flow. Damage to these vessels can lead to tears and other forms of damage, providing habitat for cholesterol buildup.
High cholesterol levels can cause plaque buildup and artery narrowing, resulting in extra strain on the heart to pump blood. This vicious cycle of high pressure and cholesterol puts extra strain on the heart and other organs, such as the eyes, kidneys, and brain.
The HealthifyMe Note
The interplay between high cholesterol and high blood pressure is more complex than previously thought. When these conditions occur together, their effects on increasing the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart disease and stroke, are compounded. Therefore, treatment of both conditions is more effective in reducing this risk than treating either one alone. Furthermore, high cholesterol is associated with high blood pressure, so it is vital to search for and address other risk factors when one of them is present.
Take Steps to Manage Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
High cholesterol and high blood pressure are two of the most common risk factors for heart disease. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood of developing a heart condition.
It is essential to stay in contact with your doctor and to monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels closely. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as not smoking, exercising regularly, eating a balanced and nutritious diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy and protect against any damaging effects.
Manage Cholesterol and Blood Pressure like a Pro
You should focus on a healthy diet and regular exercise to control high cholesterol. However, it’s always a good idea to consult a nutritionist who can create a plan tailored to your needs.
HealthifyPRO 2.0 comes with a metabolic panel to help you measure your levels and a smart scale to monitor your weight and body mass. With this information, HealthifyPRO’s in-house nutritionists and fitness coaches can make a diet and exercise routine that won’t require drastic changes to your lifestyle.
Plus, HealthifyPRO is powered by AI, Ria, which can analyse your meals and break them down into macronutrients and micronutrients. This way, you can identify any key contributors that may have caused you to exceed your calorie limit.
Potential Health Risks
The potential health risks from high cholesterol and high blood pressure are as follows.
The condition where the build-up of plaque in arteries leads to blockages and narrowing of the lumen, hardening of the walls, making them brittle.
CAD, or coronary artery disease, refers to the buildup of plaque in the arteries that are directly connected to the heart. It can lead to heart attack, heart failure, and eventually death.
Peripheral Arterial Disease
The buildup of plaque in arteries connecting to the limbs can cause claudication or pain when walking or moving the limbs. In addition, severe blockages can lead to ischemia, where insufficient blood reaches the lower limbs leading to non-healing wounds that eventually require amputations.
When the blood supply to the throat, neck, and brain gets obstructed due to plaque deposits, it is called carotid atherosclerosis and can lead to stroke.
Plaque deposits into the blood vessels supply blood to the gut leading to severe pain after consuming meals and weight loss.
The HealthifyMe Note
There is a direct correlation between high cholesterol and high blood pressure. If left unmanaged, it can be challenging to control both conditions; however, with proper diet and exercise, it is controllable. To ensure that these conditions are diagnosed at an early stage, regular testing is essential. They are so closely related because high cholesterol creates plaque that builds up and clogs the arteries, restricting the flow of blood and causing an increase in blood pressure, which consequently puts additional strain on the heart.
Reference Meal Plan for Cholesterol Management
For your reference, here is a diet to help manage cholesterol levels.
- Idli: 2
- Sambhar: 1 cup
- Tomato chutney: 1 tsp
- Milk (toned): 1 glass
Medium Size Apple: 1
- Multigrain chapati – 2
- Fish curry 1 cup with 80-100 gm fish
- Cabbage sabzi 1 cup
- tomato cucumber salad 1 cup
- Boiled green gram sprouts with lemon: 1 cup
- Green tea: 1 cup
- Multigrain chapati: 2
- Palak dal: 1 cup
- green beans sabzi: 1/2 cup
- vegetable salad: 1 cup
Other Ways to Manage High Cholesterol
Effective management of high blood pressure and cholesterol involves making lifestyle changes and taking medication when necessary.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, such as walking, running, or cycling.
A healthy diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts while limiting saturated fats to less than 6% of daily calorie intake. In addition, one should avoid red meat, high-salt foods, and sugary foods and drinks. A plant-based diet is incredibly beneficial.
Weight loss of 5-10% of excess weight can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Smoking and alcohol consumption should be avoided or limited, as smoking eliminates High-density lipids (HDL) or ‘good cholesterol, and alcohol increases triglycerides in the body and thus raises blood pressure.
If lifestyle changes are ineffective, it is best to consult a doctor and get tested regularly. Commonly prescribed medications include statins to lower cholesterol and RAS blockers to control blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.
The Final Word
Though they may not show signs, high cholesterol and high blood pressure should not be overlooked, especially if they are seen together.
In addition, exercise and a diet rich in heart-healthy foods can significantly reduce your chances of having a heart attack or stroke in the future.
Some people may need medication to lower their numbers, depending on the situation. Speak to a healthcare provider to find out what your risk of heart disease is and what you can do to avoid further heart problems and strokes.