If You Have High Cholesterol, Will You Also Develop High Blood Pressure?

There are plenty of conditions you can develop that can hurt your heart — and high cholesterol is one of them. Millions of Americans are living with high levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol every day, and scarily enough, many don’t even realize it. In case you’re unfamiliar with the condition, it develops when you have too much of the waxy substance in your blood. The cholesterol can then go on to clog your arteries.

When it comes to your heart, cholesterol isn’t the only thing that can threaten your health. You’re also probably aware that high blood pressure can increase your risk for heart attacks, coronary diseases, and strokes, too.

So, if you already have high cholesterol, does that automatically mean you have high blood pressure? Here are the facts.

High cholesterol often coexists with high blood pressure — but not always

cholesterol level conceptual meter

Cholesterol levels | Donskarpo/iStock/Getty Images

If you know you have high cholesterol levels, it’s important to check with your doctor about how your blood pressure is looking, too. WebMD explains both conditions are often seen together. This is because the plaque from elevated cholesterol levels has hardened and narrowed the arteries, making it harder for your blood to move through your body at a swift pace. This can cause your blood to force through the artery walls at an exceptionally high rate, giving you hypertension.

As Healthline puts it, when you have both conditions, “It’s like your heart has to turn its faucet up to high and blast the blood through to get enough oxygen and nutrients out to all the body organs that need it.” And though it’s possible to have just one condition without the other, researchers have found that high cholesterol often leads to high blood pressure.

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with high cholesterol but your blood pressure is in a normal range, you should act quickly in  lowering those first numbers for the sake of your heart.

Your heart is at risk if both numbers are even slightly elevated

Maybe your cholesterol levels are only slightly higher than normal and your blood pressure is hitting prehypertension range. On their own, the numbers themselves may not look too alarming — but together, your heart could be taking some serious damage.

Healthline explains elevated blood pressure levels can cause little tears in arteries and blood vessels. Over time, excess cholesterol can start to build in these small pockets. This can lead to even more plaque buildup and narrower arteries — and suddenly, you have a huge problem on your hands. Not only is your heart affected at this point, but the teamwork of hypertension and cholesterol can also harm your kidneys, eyes, brain and other organs.

How to reduce both levels at once

Eaing healthy

Woman eating a healthy salad | RossHelen/iStock/Getty Images

In terms of helping both your blood pressure and your cholesterol, there’s good news: You can kill two birds with one stone by adopting some healthier habits. Here’s what you can do every day to lower both numbers.

Go for a walk: Are you getting your 30 minutes of exercise in daily? Both high cholesterol and blood pressure can greatly be helped by getting the recommended amount of activity in per week. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise to hit the mark.

Eat the right foods: Out with the fried foods and sweets and in with the healthy foods. Your diet has a direct correlation to both your blood pressure and cholesterol, so it should be one of the first aspects of your life to change. Good fats, like nuts and fish, and whole grains, leafy greens, and low-sodium foods can all help.

Lower your stress levels: Dealing with anxieties from work, home, and life in general?  It may be in your best interest to start meditating for just 10 minutes a day or employing various stress-relieving techniques. Living a high-stress life can lead to unhealthy eating and exercise habits. Not only that, but research has shown your anxiety can lead to higher levels of LDL cholesterol and raised blood pressure levels.

Quit smoking: This habit isn’t just bad for your lungs — it’s also bad for your heart. The chemical changes that smoking leads to can cause a build-up of cholesterol and raised blood pressure. You should also do your best to avoid secondhand smoke, as this can also cause issues.

Skip the alcohol: If you’re headed to happy hour on a regular basis, it may be in your best interest to skip it. Drinking more than a few alcoholic beverages per week has been proven to harm your blood pressure. And while beer doesn’t contain any cholesterol directly, Healthline explains the carbs and alcohol in the drink can raise triglyceride levels.

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