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Cholesterol and Stress

stressed man

Cholesterol levels may rise years after people are placed under stressful conditions. The effect of stress on later cholesterol levels may be minimal but it underlines the reasons that we must tackle anxiety promptly and correctly.

Dr Andy Steptoe of London College University said “Although levels of cholesterol are impacted by stress I would be amazed if the effects were anything like those that would be imposed by lifestyle.” “This study however helps us to understand exactly how heart disease is linked to stress.”

Chronic stress has long been linked to a wide range of problems, these include strokes, heart attacks and even the common cold. The study looked at 200 men and women to find out if stressful periods resulted in raised levels of cholesterol up to three years later.

During the study, once the subject’s cholesterol levels were measured they were then put through a ‘stress test’. This was a series of tests designed to see how they now coped with stressful conditions. Heart rate, brain waves and other indicators such as perspiration were measured to see how they coped.

At the end of the three year period the researchers once again measured the cholesterol levels of the subjects. In line with expectations, all of the subjects had a raised level of cholesterol. This is partly due to the natural process of getting older. It was also noted however that the people who had responded to the previous tests with the highest levels of stress now had the highest levels of cholesterol. Compared with the least stressed members of the group, those who dealt with stress badly were up to three times more likely to suffer with dangerous levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol at a later date.

It is impossible to completely avoid stress but the key is in how you handle and adapt to that stress.

Multitude Of Factors
During the test, certain factors that naturally cause higher levels of cholesterol had to be eliminated from the test results. These factors include being overweight and smoking which result in a much higher spike in cholesterol levels than the study showed resulted from the stress. Stress induced cholesterol levels are fairly small, but the fact that it happens at all gives scientists and doctors other areas to focus on when advising patients.

Still, with stress linked to heart problems already, higher cholesterol is the last thing anyone would need.

Stress has already been linked to heart problems many time, the fact that it also raises cholesterol is another worrying fact. The researchers also advised that the best way to maintain a healthy heart is to “have an active lifestyle, healthy diet, control your body weight and not to smoke.”

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