The relationship between high blood pressure and cholesterol is intimate at several levels. One is the fact that over time high blood pressure can speed up the deposition of cholesterol plaque in your arteries. Cholesterol is a waxy, soft lipid or fat that has many beneficial functions in the body, such as helping form cell membranes and various tissues. However, it also can accumulate in your arteries and other blood vessels, especially those damaged by high blood pressure, which can then lead to heart disease.
High blood pressure can also cause cholesterol to build up in other areas of the body, including the brain (which can lead to stroke), the kidneys (kidney failure), and the legs and feet (intermittent claudication, which is characterized by severe pain while walking). Thus, as you can see, high blood pressure and cholesterol have a relationship that ranges from head to toes.
Having high cholesterol is like having high blood pressure: there are no symptoms. Given that about two- thirds of people have high cholesterol (defined as a reading of 200mg/dL or higher), there are lots of people walking around with this known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is to take a blood test, which is recommended every five years for everyone age 20 and older. If you have high cholesterol and are taking steps to reduce it, you should have your levels checked more often to be sure you are on track.
The suggestions in this book, especially those on diet and exercise, are critical not only for lowering blood pressure but for helping reduce your cholesterol as well. That’s right: when you lower your blood pressure, your cholesterol levels will likely decline as well. Conversely, as your blood pressure rises, so do the chances your cholesterol is inching up as well. So although this volume is not about how to lower your cholesterol, you may enjoy that benefit as well. If you need to address a high-cholesterol problem, there are many excellent natural options from which to choose and much online and print information to guide you through the process.