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Can Stress Cause High Cholesterol

Can Anxiety Raise Blood Pressure Blood Sugar And Cholesterol

The Link Between Stress and High Cholesterol

Complete Question

My doctor just said my anxiety has raised my systolic rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Can anxiety actually do this?


Behaving in an apprehensive manner causes the body to produce the stress response. The stress response immediately secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat – to either fight with or flee from it – which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.

Part of the stress response changes include elevating heart rate and increasing blood sugar so that the body is better equipped to fight or flee.

When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about. Consequently, the stress response changes are temporary. Under normal circumstances, these changes quickly subside and present no long-term effects.

When stress responses occur too frequently and/or dramatically, however, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can cause the body to remain in a semi hyperstimulated state, since stress hormones are stimulants. We call this semi hyperstimulated state, stress-response hyperstimulation.

Thats the bad news.

Managing Stress In Healthy Ways

Even if you cant find a way to reduce chronic stress, finding healthy coping mechanisms can help keep cortisol production and cholesterol levels under control. Some examples are meditating, getting a good nights sleep, and doing activities that make you happy. Some simple things, like petting a dog, can increase oxytocin production, which fights stress and lowers blood pressure. Professional counseling can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms for chronic stress.

The Stress And Cholesterol Connection

You may have never thought about stress raising your cholesterol before, but medical professionals are becoming more and more concerned about it each day.Chronic stress, whether its from a difficult job with many deadlines, or a strained personal life, can cause lipid concentrations in the body to rise. Over time, LDL cholesterol the bad kind can accumulate in the arteries, causing atherosclerosis, which reduces overall blood flow. Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States, so your cholesterol levels are nothing to play around with.

Stress also stimulates the production of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline in the body. These hormones spur your body to release triglycerides and free-floating fatty acids, which can in turn increase your LDL cholesterol level.

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Diet Rich In Saturated Fats And Trans Fats: Most Common Cause

An unhealthy diet is the most common cause of having high cholesterol readings. Foods that contain saturated fats and trans fat are the main culprits.

Trans fat foods not only raise your LDL but also lower your HDL, the good cholesterol. That makes it the worst food you can eat vis-à-vis cholesterol.

Saturated fats are found in :

  • Dairy foods such as butter, cheese, sour cream, ghee, full-fat milk and ice cream
  • Red Meat such as fatty cuts of beef, pork and lamb organ meat, processed meats like salami and sausages and the skin on chicken
  • Lard
  • Certain cooking oils like palm oil
  • Seafood like prawns and lobster

Trans fats are found in :

  • Cakes, pies, and cookies
  • Doughnuts
  • Packed wafers

The American Heart Association recommends that you replace foods containing saturated fats and trans fats with foods that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Poor Diet Can Cause High Cholesterol

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“Eating saturated fat, found in animal products, and trans fats, found in some commercially baked cookies and crackers and microwave popcorn, can raise your cholesterol level,” says the Mayo Clinic. “Foods that are high in cholesterol, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, will also increase your cholesterol.”

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Tips To Get A Heart Healthy Handle On Stress

If stress increases your cholesterol and leads to heart risks, how can you go about reducing these risks? Healthy responses to stress, healthy stress relievers, and healthy living that stops stress before it starts are all steps in the right direction. Try the following stress-reducing techniques.

8 Ways to Reduce Stress

  • Justâ¦Relax â Your schedule is hectic. You have no down time. Every second is filled with one task after another. How stressful. Take a break. You may think you donât have the time, but make the time. Youâre surfing the net right now, so you do have at least a few minutes to spare. Take just seven minutes each day to stop. Sit quietly. Do some stretches. Take deep breaths. Meditate. Pray. Do whatever gets your mind to slow down so your body does too.
  • LOL â Laughter is a great tension reliever. Watch a funny movie. Listen to a comedian. Treat yourself to some smiles and laughter to release the stress and help your heart.
  • Eat sress-fighting foods â Choosing the right foods can help reduce your stress. Hello Heart offers a list of Foods That Fight Stress. Donât worry, they arenât things youâll hate. One of them is chocolate!
  • Be social â Make time for family and friends. Depending on your family and friends, this may sound stressful. Generally, though, itâs a good idea. You need to set aside the stress for a while and just kick back and have a good time.
  • Too Much Worrying And Stress Can Increase Your Cholesterol And Your Heart Risk

    You order grilled fish and salad at your favorite restaurant instead of the fried combo platter. You are truly making efforts to lower your cholesterol. In fact, you are so concerned about it, itâs stressing you out. What you might not realize is that stress can actually increase your cholesterol. This, in turn, raises your risk of heart disease.

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    Other Causes Of High Cholesterol

    People are often surprised to find out they have high cholesterol or triglycerides in their blood, but there are many possible explanations. High levels of blood fats can have many different causes which can all add up, including your lifestyle, genes, age, gender and ethnic background.

    Here you can take a look at some of the lesser-known causes. Doctors sometimes call these ‘secondary causes’ of high cholesterol.

    Learn about changing your lifestyle to help lower your cholesterol

    Causes Of High Cholesterol Blood Levels In The Body

    Heart Health and Stress: Beyond Cholesterol

    The body gets its cholesterol from two sources:

    • The liver produces 80 percent of the body requirement. In hypercholesterolemia due to hereditary causes, the liver produces more of cholesterol,
    • The balance 20 percent comes from the foods that you eat.

    High levels are, therefore, caused either by overproduction by the liver or excess consumption from the high-fat foods that you eat.

    Besides these, there are other nondietary causes and risk factors why you can get abnormal levels. They are explained here:

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    Lifestyle Changes To Lower Cholesterol

    Heart-healthy lifestyle changes that can help you lower or control your cholesterol include:

    • Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. It recommends that you eat and drink only enough calories to stay at a healthy weight and avoid weight gain. It encourages you to choose a variety of nutritious foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Examples of eating plans that can lower your cholesterol include the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet and the DASH eating plan.
    • Weight Management. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol. This is especially important for people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that includes high triglyceride levels, low HDL cholesterol levels, and being overweight with a large waist measurement .
    • Physical Activity. Everyone should get regular physical activity .
    • Managing stress. Research has shown that chronic stress can sometimes raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol.
    • Quitting smoking.Quitting smoking can raise your HDL cholesterol. Since HDL helps to remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries, having more HDL can help to lower your LDL cholesterol.

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    Assay For Serum Biochemical Parameters

    The serum was separated from the blood samples by centrifugation at 3500 rpm for 10 minutes. Total cholesterol , high density lipoprotein cholesterol , low density lipoprotein cholesterol , glucose, alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase were measured with automatic chemical analyzer 7020 .

    How Stress Affects Your Heart Health

    Top 10 Foods that will Help Reduce Cholesterol, Stress ...

    Everyone has stress from time to time, whether from work, financial trouble, family problems, or facing a big life change, like moving.

    When youâre feeling strained, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that rev up your heart, sharpen your brain, and help you deal with problems. A little stress may even be good for you by helping you focus on a challenge in your life and work harder to overcome it.

    Constant stress is another story. If itâs nonstop and lasts for a long time, your stress hormones remain at high levels and put a dangerous strain on your heart and other parts of your body. High levels of cortisol from chronic or long-term stress can cause high blood cholesterol, along with other heart disease risks.

    Over time, excess LDL, or âbad,â cholesterol can build up in your arteries, causing them to become clogged and hard. Stress also triggers inflammation that lowers your HDL, or âgood,â cholesterol, which helps clear out extra LDL.

    In general, healthy adults should have:

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    Why Are High Blood Cholesterol Levels Bad

    Cholesterol has a wax-like constitution and therefore, cannot dissolve in blood, which is water based.

    It, therefore, piggy rides on the back of the proteins to travel in the bloodstream and feed the body cells. This combination of proteins and cholesterol is called lipoproteins.

    Due to its waxy and sticky nature, an excess of cholesterol in the blood tends to stick to the inner walls of the arteries hardening the arterial walls.

    Over time, this narrows down the lumen of the arteries and further can occlude it causing loss of blood supply to concerned part of the body. This is referred to as atherosclerosis.

    • In the heart, this can cause angina or a heart attack.
    • In the brain, this can cause a stroke.
    • In the peripheral parts of the body, this can cause peripheral vascular disease.

    These are enough significant reasons to emphasize, why you should keep your cholesterol levels in check.

    The main culprits whose high levels can cause these complications are LDL and triglycerides.

    Here is the list of reasons that can cause your serum cholesterol levels to rise:

    How Stress Affects Your Cholesterol Level: Everything You Wanted To Know

    Youve heard all about how high cholesterol levels are causing ill health. More importantly, youve heard about how bad cholesterol is causing ill health. It affects your arteries and blood flow, putting your heart under more pressure to perform properly. Those with high cholesterol levels are more at risk of stroke, heart attacks, and heart disease.

    Cholesterol has long been linked to the food we eat. There are certain foods that were recommended to stay away from and others that we should get more off to promote good cholesterol levels and help protect the arteries.

    Did you know that its not just food that affects the cholesterol levels? Stress has been linked to high cholesterol. In fact, some studies now show that stress is worse than the food we eat for cholesterol levels and ill health.

    The problem is that stress is a silent killer. We dont realize that our cortisol levels are up and causing these problems until its too late in some cases. Its important to reduce our stress levels to keep our cholesterol levels down.

    Heres a look at just how stress causes high cholesterol and what you can do about it.

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    What Other Medications Treat High Cholesterol

    Bile acid sequestrants: These drugs bind with cholesterol-containing bile acids in the intestines and allow them to be eliminated in the stool. Bile acid sequestrants may lower LDL cholesterol by a significant amount. Bile acid sequestrants are sometimes prescribed with a statin to enhance cholesterol reduction.

    • Cholestyramine , colestipol , and colesevelam are the three bile acid sequestrants currently available. These three drugs are available as powders or tablets and are not absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
    • Bile acid sequestrant powders must be mixed with water or fruit juice and are taken once or twice daily with meals. Tablets must be taken with large amounts of fluids to avoid stomach and intestinal complaints including constipation, bloating, nausea, and gas.

    Cholesterol absorption inhibitors: These drugs inhibit cholesterol absorption in the gut and has few, if any, side effects. Cholesterol absorption inhibitors may be rarely associated with tongue swelling . Ezetimibe reduces LDL cholesterol by a significant amount. It is probably most useful in people who cannot tolerate taking statins. When used in addition to a statin, ezetimibe is equivalent to doubling or tripling the statin dose.

    Nicotinic acid or niacin: Nicotinic acid lowers total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while raising HDL cholesterol levels.

    Fibrates: These cholesterol-lowering drugs are effective in lowering triglycerides.

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    Stress Changes Your Behavior

    How Sugar (NOT FAT) Causes High Cholesterol

    Experiencing too much stress over a long period of time can wreak havoc on your body and put you at an elevated risk for heart disease and having a heart attack as you age. Theres more to how stress impacts your heart and your general health, though.

    When youre stressed out, youre not nearly as likely to get up and exercise in the morning. Youre going to hit the snooze button and try to catch a few more winks instead. The same goes for trying to hit the gym at the end of a 15-hour day or after a fight with your partner.

    The amount of stress youre under also plays a major role in lifestyle choices. People who are under a great deal of stress tend to choose comfort foods to eat instead of picking healthy options. Isnt it more likely that you could binge on ice cream when youre stressed out than when youre happy and in a great mood?

    Adults who consume alcohol are also susceptible to drinking more when theyre under a lot of stress. Those extra calories can impact your weight, not to mention the damage too much alcohol can do to other parts of your body like your liver.

    Individuals who smoke or who have recently quit are also more likely to light up when under stress.

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    Stress And The Unhealthy Lifestyle

    One of the reasons found for the stress and high cholesterol link is bad lifestyle habits. Those who are stressed are more likely to follow less healthy habits in other areas of their life. Theyre less likely to exercise and more likely to eat bad food. After all, saturated and trans fat foods tend to be the comfort foods those that people crave to try to boost their endorphin and serotonin levels.

    People who are stressed will look for ways to counter their cortisol levels, and that is usually through unhealthy methods. People are more likely to drink or smoke, which puts other strains on their body. The body isnt able to produce the good cholesterol and is encouraged to create bad cholesterol.

    This reason is highly common in men. It is men who tend to deal with stress the worst, possibly due to misconceptions that relaxation techniques are for women. They also tend to have higher stressful jobs than women, since many men are in higher positions of power and authority. Men tend to be in more leadership roles, which means more responsibility and decision making. It may not seem fair, but thats just a common view.

    Hypothyroidism And High Cholesterol

    The thyroid gland situated in the neck in front of the windpipe can become overactive or underactive.

    Thyroid hormones help to produce cholesterol in the body and also to get rid of any excess of it in order to maintain normal levels.

    An underactive thyroid means that lower levels of the thyroid hormones are circulating in the blood and subsequently, your body is unable to break down the LDL cholesterol as efficiently. This causes more cholesterol to float around in the blood.

    An overactive thyroid has the opposite effect and can drop the levels to abnormally low values.

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