Today we want to talk to you about the most common causes of cholesterol and hypertension. Did you know that more than 100 million people above 20 years of age have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and hypertension? In the United States alone, 7% of children and adolescents between the ages six and 19 have high cholesterol. This makes the fight against high cholesterol and hypertension even more urgent to reduce the global burden of preventable diseases.
High cholesterol is linked to various health conditions, including stroke, coronary heart disease, and diabetes. While these diseases are of grave concern, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure (hypertension) have received much attention. If cholesterol levels are not controlled, the outcome is hypertension and a chain-link reaction of the diseases mentioned.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance and is necessary for the development of healthy cells. At acceptable levels, cholesterol is good for you. The problem arises when the levels rise so high that fatty deposits develop within your blood vessels.
The buildup of fatty deposits causes the arteries to harden over time, so they become narrow and interfere with the normal blood flow. When this happens, the heart strains to keep pumping blood, and the outcome is high blood pressure. If a blood vessel becomes blocked, a heart attack is inevitable.
Unfortunately, high cholesterol has no symptoms. Most people don’t discover they have high cholesterol until they go through a life-threatening event. Some have been lucky enough to find out during routine health checks.
So, what causes high cholesterol and hypertension?
Your diet can easily increase the risk of bad cholesterol in your body. The first step to ensure you don’t suffer from high cholesterol is to reduce your fat intake. A diet rich in saturated fat is detrimental to people at risk of high cholesterol.
Saturated fats are found in meats, chocolate, baked goods, dairy products, processed foods and deep-fried foods. A diet with trans fats, found in fried and processed foods, can also result in high cholesterol.
A family history of high cholesterol and high blood pressure
Has anyone in your immediate family been found to have high cholesterol or hypertension? You may be wondering how your father, for example, having high cholesterol, puts you at risk. Unfortunately, high cholesterol is caused by factors you can control, such as your diet, and factors beyond your control, such as genetics.
Although some of the cholesterol in your body comes from what you consume, some of it comes from the liver. Unfortunately, even if you eat well, your genes may cause your liver to produce more cholesterol than your body needs.
Additionally, your genetic makeup may make it difficult for your cells to expel bad cholesterol from your body efficiently. You should get regular health checks if your family has a history of high cholesterol and hypertension.
One reason for the increased burden of high cholesterol and hypertension on health care globally is obesity, which is currently at 13% of the world’s population. This is a direct consequence of unhealthy diets and lifestyles. Obesity results in high levels of bad cholesterol in the body.
Lack of exercise
Exercise helps to reduce the possibility of high cholesterol in two ways. Firstly, regular exercise boosts the presence of healthy cholesterol, also known as HDL. Simultaneously, a physically active body helps increase the size of particles of bad cholesterol, making it less harmful. This is why a common solution for high cholesterol is physical exercise.
One of the consequences of chronic smoking is the damage to the walls of blood vessels. Weakened blood vessels cannot fight off the deposit of fats, which accumulate over time resulting in high cholesterol. Smoking also reduces the presence of good cholesterol.
Although the rise in young people suffering from high cholesterol is a concern, older people are more at risk. There is a direct relationship between age and high cholesterol. This is primarily because the body’s chemistry changes as you age.
For example, your organs are not as strong as they used to be, so their performance diminishes. In this case, your liver may experience difficulty in removing LDL or bad cholesterol from your body.
High blood sugar can sometimes result in dangerous levels of cholesterol. This is because uncontrolled sugar in the blood damages the lining of the arteries, which ultimately makes them susceptible to fat buildup. This is why many people with diabetes also suffer from hypertension.
High cholesterol and hypertension can weigh you down. Anyone can suffer from these conditions if precaution is not taken to ensure the body functions optimally. A lifestyle change is critical for your well-being.