High Cholesterol And Stroke: How Are They Related
Can high cholesterol cause a stroke? Generally speaking, yes, high cholesterol is one of the leading causes of stroke. However, not all cholesterol is bad. In fact, the body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to function optimally.
To help you understand the link between high cholesterol and stroke, this article will discuss how cholesterol affects stroke risk as well as effective ways to manage cholesterol.
How Low Can It Go
Early trials with cholesterol-lowering drugs were less than promising. A 1993 report pooled together the results of 13 trials conducted between 1966 and 1992 involving over 45,000 men. Cholesterol lowering had no effect on the incidence of stroke. There was a general tendency for it to decrease the risk of nonfatal stroke and increase the risk of fatal stroke, but the only trials in which the magnitudes of these differences were strong enough to be distinguished from the effects of chance were those that used the drug clofibrate. Clofibrate belongs to a class of drugs, called fibrates, that increase the excretion of lipids into the bile. Treatment with clofibrate more than doubled the risk of fatal stroke. The only trial that specifically reported the effect of treatment on hemorrhagic stroke used another fibrate called gemfibrozil. Treatment with this drug resulted in five times the risk of fatal hemorrhagic stroke.25
Hemorrhagic stroke is four times as deadly as ischemic stroke,21 and survival of both types is positively associated with cholesterol levels.22 The results of the early trials with cholesterol-lowering drugs may well reflect a tradeoff between hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke as well as a decreased ability to survive either type.
Ldl Cholesterol Or Bad Cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein is often called bad cholesterol. It carries cholesterol to your arteries. If your levels of LDL cholesterol are too high, it can build up on the walls of your arteries.
The buildup is also known as cholesterol plaque. This plaque can narrow your arteries, limit your blood flow, and raise your risk of blood clots. If a blood clot blocks an artery in your heart or brain, it can cause a heart attack or stroke.
According to the
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Good Vs Bad Cholesterol And Stroke Risk
There are two different types of cholesterol HDL and LDL and they both affect your risk of stroke in different ways.
LDL cholesterol;is the bad cholesterol that, when consumed in excess, can buildup on the walls of your arteries. Without proper management, it can progress into a condition called atherosclerosis. This is a major risk factor for stroke characterized by narrowing of the arteries.
HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is the good cholesterol. It acts as a healthy scavenger that carries bad LDL away from the arteries and into the liver where its broken down.
Having high LDL and low HDL cholesterol is known to increase ones risk of stroke. By taking proactive measures to reduce LDL and increase HDL cholesterol , you can effectively reduce your chances of experiencing a stroke.
How To Lower Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to help lower it. For instance, they may recommend changes to your diet, exercise habits, or other aspects of your daily routine. If you smoke tobacco products, they will likely advise you to quit.
Your doctor may also prescribe medications or other treatments to help lower your cholesterol levels. In some cases, they may refer you to a specialist for more care. See how long it may take for your cholesterol treatment to work.
To help you achieve and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet.
For example, they may advise you to:
- limit your intake of foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats
- choose lean sources of protein, such as chicken, fish, and legumes
- eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- opt for baked, broiled, steamed, grilled, and roasted foods instead of fried foods
- avoid fast food and junk food
Foods that are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, or trans fats include:
- red meat, organ meats, egg yolks, and high-fat dairy products
- processed foods made with cocoa butter, palm oil, or coconut oil
- deep fried foods, such as potato chips, onion rings, and fried chicken
- certain baked goods, such as some cookies and muffins
For example, the following products contain high levels of cholesterol:
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Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
Often, there are no specific symptoms of high cholesterol. You could have high cholesterol and not know it.
If you have high cholesterol, your body may store the extra cholesterol in your arteries. These are blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. A buildup of cholesterol in your arteries is known as plaque. Over time, plaque can become hard and make your arteries narrow. Large deposits of plaque can completely block an artery. Cholesterol plaques can also break apart, leading to formation of a blood clot that blocks the flow of blood.
A blocked artery to the heart can cause a heart attack. A blocked artery to your brain can cause a stroke.
Many people dont discover that they have high cholesterol until they suffer one of these life-threatening events. Some people find out through routine check-ups that include blood tests.
Take A Look At Your Lifestyle
You can make lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol numbers.
Your body naturally produces all the LDL cholesterol it needs. An unhealthy lifestyle makes your body produce more LDL cholesterol than it needs. This is the cause of high LDL cholesterol for most people.
Behaviors that can negatively affect your cholesterol levels include:
- Unhealthy diet
- Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
- Being overweight or obese
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Is Insulin What Causes A Stroke Or Heart Attack
In an insulin-resistant person, normal levels of insulin do not have the same effect on muscle and fat cells, with the result that glucose levels stay higher than normal.
Too much sugar in the blood causes damage to the arteries.
To compensate for this, the pancreas in an insulin-resistant individual is stimulated to release more insulin.
- These high insulin levels in turn cause problems throughout the body both hormonal changes as well as inflammation.
So when your doctor says that you are “pre-diabetic” the damage that causes a stroke or heart attack is already happening.
How do you know that this is happening?
Typical symptoms of insulin resistance are:
You may want to protect yourself with one of the best insulin resistance supplements!
Take Your Prescribed Medications
For some, the doctor may recommend lowering cholesterol with prescription medications called statins. If thats what your doctor advises, follow their directions even when youre taking other steps to control cholesterol. Some people with high cholesterol simply cant get their numbers down with diet and exercise, so following a doctors advice when it comes to statins can be important.
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How To Prevent Stroke
There are some risk factors that are tied to stroke that you cant changefor example, your age or your sexwhile others may be within your control. A lot of things can cause stroke, but worldwide about 80 to 90 percent are caused by vascular risk factors, Dr. Aradine says. Examples of these include high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, diabetes, and alcohol intake. If you change your behaviors, your risk of a stroke can be greatly reduced.
Below are ways to reduce your risk of stroke:
Myth: I Would Be Able To Feel It If I Had High Cholesterol
Fact:;High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may not know you have unhealthy cholesterol levels until it is too latewhen you have a heart attack or stroke. Thats why its so important to get your cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.1,2 Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.
Occasionally, some people develop yellowish growths on their skin called;xanthomas, which are cholesterol-rich deposits. People with xanthomas may have high cholesterol levels.
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Who Is At Risk Of High Blood Pressure
You are more likely to have high blood pressure if you have one or more of these risk factors:;
- Age: the risk of having high blood pressure rises as you get older.;
- Family history of high blood pressure.;
- Eating too much salt.
- Obstructive sleep apnoea .;
- Pregnant women can develop pre-eclampsia, which causes high blood pressure.
- Lupus .
What Causes High Cholesterol
Many factors can increase your chances of having heart problems or a stroke if you have high cholesterol.
- an unhealthy diet in particular, eating high levels of saturated fat
- smoking; a chemical called acrolin, found in cigarettes, stops HDL transporting cholesterol from fatty deposits to the liver, leading to narrowing of the arteries
- having diabetes or high blood pressure
- having a family history of stroke or heart disease
There’s also an inherited condition called familial hypercholesterolaemia. This can cause high cholesterol even in someone who eats healthily.
Read more about the causes of high cholesterol
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Keeping Your Cholesterol In Check
Because itâs easy to let high cholesterol go unnoticed, nearly 1 in 3 people with high LDL numbers donât have the condition under control. That puts them at risk.
Itâs crucial that you speak to your doctor about getting your cholesterol checked, Michel says.
The American Heart Association recommends getting your cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years starting at age 20. But if you are at risk for heart disease â for instance, if it runs in your family, or you smoke, or youâre overweight — talk it over with your doctor. âHe or she may recommend getting tested at a younger age, or more regular screenings,â Michel says.
Your target for total cholesterol is less than 180 mg/dL.If your level is higher, your doctor will consider that in along with other risk factors, such as your family history, smoking habit, and weight, to prescribe a cholesterol-lowering plan. That usually includes lifestyle steps, such as regular exercise and eating a heart-healthy diet high in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and healthy fats. You may also need to take a cholesterol-lowering medication.
How Is High Blood Pressure Treated
Many people can lower their blood pressure by making changes to their lifestyle. If you are overweight, losing some weight can make a big difference. Doing some more exercise, eating healthier food, and reducing alcohol can also cause a big improvement in blood pressure levels.;
You may be advised to take medication, especially if you have some additional risk factors.
To help you make a decision about medication, your doctor will assess your personal risk of developing stroke or heart disease in future. They look at whether your high blood pressure has caused problems in the body already. You may have a blood test, a urine test, and an electrocardiogram to check for heart problems.
If your blood pressure is consistently above 140/90 mmHg and your risk of stroke is high, you’ll be offered medication to lower your blood pressure and advice about making lifestyle changes.;
If your blood pressure is consistently above 160/100mmHg, you’ll be offered medication to lower your blood pressure, even if your risk of a stroke is low, as well as advice on making lifestyle changes.
If you’ve had a stroke or heart attack, the aim will often be to reduce your blood pressure to below 130/80mmHg.;;
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Risk Factors For Atherosclerosis And Stroke
A major reason why atherosclerosis can significantly increase ones risk of having a stroke is that the two conditions share many risk factors.
Common risk factors for both atherosclerosis and stroke include:
- high cholesterol
- older age
- family history of heart disease
Many of these risk factors contribute to the buildup of plaque within the arteries or increase chances of blood clotting. For example, smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, and high blood pressure can damage the walls of arteries that have been narrowed by plaque buildup.
Therefore, by effectively managing these risk factors, individuals can significantly minimize their risk of developing atherosclerosis and having a stroke. ;
In the following section, well discuss signs of a stroke and when to seek medical attention.
Does Stress Cause High Cholesterol
While stress is not a primary cause of high cholesterol, it may still have an effect on cholesterol levels. A study published in May 2017 in the journal Medicine found that in people who experienced stress due to work or personal conflict, higher stress was a risk factor for high cholesterol. And when you are feeling stressed and pressed for time, you may be less likely to follow heart-healthy lifestyle measures, such as eating a nutritious diet and getting exercise. The 2017 study found that regular physical exercise had a strong protective effect against cholesterol.
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When It Comes To Understanding This Link The Devil Is In The Details
When we talk about LDL cholesterol, it’s always described as bad or harmful and with good reason. High blood levels of this artery-clogging substance boost the risk of heart disease, the nation’s leading cause of death. The more you can lower your LDL cholesterol , the lower your risk of a heart attack. For heart attack survivors, national guidelines recommend aiming for an LDL cholesterol level of less than 70 milligrams per deciliter to prevent a second heart attack.
In the past year, however, two studies in the journal Neurology reported a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke in people with LDL levels of 70 and lower. While that sounds worrisome, a closer look at the findings can put these results into perspective.
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Medication For High Blood Pressure
This guide can only give general information. You should always get individual advice about your own health and any treatment you may need from a medical professional such as a GP or pharmacist.Tailoring your treatment
The medication you take will be tailored to your individual needs. The medication recommended for you at first will depend on your age and ethnicity.
You might take one type of medication or a combination of two; or more types. This is because the drugs work in different ways, and rather than take more of one type, it can be more effective to take two or more different types. You may need to try different combinations to find out which works best for you. If you need to take four or more different types of medication to control your blood pressure, you should be referred to see a specialist.How long will I be on medication?
The aim of the medication is to keep your blood pressure low and stable over many years. This helps to keep your blood vessels healthy and reduce the risk of a stroke. Some people may be advised to continue taking medication for high blood pressure for the rest of their lives. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or stroke nurse to find out more about what is causing your blood pressure and the best treatment options for you.
Making changes to your lifestyle such as stopping smoking or losing weight can help to lower blood pressure. With support from your doctor or pharmacist, some people may eventually be able to reduce or stop the medication.;;
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Behaviors That Increase Risk For Stroke
Diets high in saturated fats, trans fat, sodium, and cholesterol have been linked to stroke. Find healthy recipes and meal plans at the Million Hearts® Heart-Healthy Recipes page.external icon
Your lifestyle choices can affect your chances of having a stroke. To lower your risk, your doctor may suggest changes to your lifestyle.
The good news is that healthy behaviors;can lower your risk for stroke.
Hdl Cholesterol Or Good Cholesterol
High-density lipoprotein is sometimes called good cholesterol. It helps return LDL cholesterol to your liver to be removed from your body. This helps prevent cholesterol plaque from building up in your arteries.
When you have healthy levels of HDL cholesterol, it can help lower your risk of blood clots, heart disease, and stroke. Learn more about HDL cholesterol.
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Subgroup And Sensitivity Analyses
Table shows that the combined RRs of stroke for high cholesterol intake were 0.87 for the < 60-year age subgroup and 1.18 for the â¥ 60-year age subgroup .3). The combined RR of stroke for high cholesterol intake was 1.18 for females . The association between cholesterol intake and stroke risk did not differ substantially by stroke type, sex, stroke risk for females, age, age for females, follow-up duration, ethnicity, country, study quality, or caloric intake. To determine the impact of multivariable adjustment, we performed additional sensitivity analyses by excluding studies that did not simultaneously adjust for hypertension, diabetes, and smoking. The sensitivity analyses did not lead to any change in the significance or direction of effect for the association between cholesterol intake and stroke risk after applying the leave-one-out method .
Prevention: What Can You Do To Avoid A Stroke
Knowing what and how much to eat is the key step in making sure you will never have to suffer any brain damage caused by fatty deposits.;Lifestyle changes that everyone keeps mentioning include giving up bad habits , exercising more, but also following any cholesterol-lowering medication treatments that your doctor may have prescribed.
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