Learning About Healthy Cholesterol Levels & Blood Pressure
Maintaining normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels is an important step in ensuring your heart remains healthy. People with high blood pressure and high cholesterol have an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other serious health problems.
We asked Rochester Area Health cardiologist Gaurav Sharma to explain what normal blood pressure and cholesterol are, and simple steps people can take to maintain healthy levels. Now you can Learning About Healthy Cholesterol Levels & Blood Pressure:
Blood pressure readings
As blood circulates through your body, a certain amount of pressure moves it. This pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), which was used in the first accurate manometers.
Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Systolic blood pressure, the pressure the heart exerts on the arterial walls when it beats, is the first number. The second number is the diastolic blood pressure, which is the pressure on the artery walls when the heart is at rest.
Normal blood pressure is 120/80 mmHg or lower according to the latest guidelines issued by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. By these same AHA standards, high blood pressure is considered 130/80 or higher.
Symptoms of high blood pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) may or may not be accompanied by symptoms. In symptomatic patients, these symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Chest pain or heaviness
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid buildup in the lungs or legs (edema)
- Dizziness or lightheadedness Dizziness
- ) Confusion
“Because high blood pressure can occur without symptoms, regular primary care visits should be a priority for everyone — especially if there is a family history,” says Dr. Sharma.
Hypertension Risk Factors and Treatment
Genetics play an important role in a person’s blood pressure. People with high blood pressure can lower their blood pressure through lifestyle changes.
Factors that control blood pressure include:
- physical inactivity/lack of exercise
- emotional stress
- illicit drugs
- sleep apnea
- being overweight
- high sodium diet (* ) Studies have shown that making healthy lifestyle choices is very effective in keeping a person’s blood pressure at normal levels. These practices include daily physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a healthy diet, such as the DASH diet. If patients incorporate these practices into their daily lives and do not see significant changes, providers may recommend medications such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, or beta-blockers to help.
There is no age at which people should stop treatment for her blood pressure. If a person has high blood pressure all his life, he should treat it for as long as possible. Patients should have their blood pressure checked regularly with their GP.
Cholesterol is an organic molecule that helps the body produce hormones and cell membranes, and supports other forms of development. However, when there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can start to stick to the walls of the arteries, causing narrowing or even blockage.
These blockages can lead to more serious health problems such as chest pain, cardiac arrest, stroke, heart attack, and even death.
Cholesterol is expressed in milligrams per deciliter; a deciliter is equal to one-tenth of a liter. A person’s total cholesterol level is made up of HDL and LDL levels.
For people over the age of 20, normal cholesterol levels are between 125 and 200 mg/dL. Within this range, LDL should be below 100 for both men and women. Men’s HDL levels must be 40 mg/DL or higher; women’s HDL levels must be 50 mg/DL or higher.
Risk Factors and Treatment of Hypercholesterolemia
When analyzing a patient’s cholesterol levels, cardiologists consider several factors to determine whether a patient is at increased risk. These risk factors include:
- arterial blood pressure
- medical history, including heart attack or stroke
- providers will review these risk factors and determine whether lifestyle changes alone are sufficient to reduce Cholesterol in a person or when taking medications such as statins.
The most effective lifestyle changes for lowering cholesterol are quitting smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding saturated fat.
“Don’t underestimate the power of a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Sharma, “When patients make simple but effective changes in their daily lives, they may be amazed at what they can achieve.”