A Surprising Source of High Cholesterol

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Research out of the U.K. says that if you have stress under control in your life, your cholesterol levels are better off. But if you suffer under pressure, those levels will steadily grow worse.

They found this out by examining about 200 government employees in London. In the long-term study, the participants gave blood samples, discussed their stress levels, and took two stress tests. None of them had any history of hypertension or heart problems.

So, what’s a stress test? One of the two involved mismatched colors and words — for example, the word “green” written in red. They had to name the color of the word (red). The second test was a timed exercise in trying to trace the outline of a star in a mirror.

After the tests, researchers took some blood samples and they were asked to rate their stress. No fewer than three years later, they did another cholesterol check. During that lengthy span of time, cholesterol rose for everyone right after the stress test and three years later.

But those with the highest cholesterol spikes during the stress tests had the highest levels three years later. This shows that stress raises cholesterol, and the effect doesn’t go away for a long time. Some numbers from the study:

  • 16% of people who had little cholesterol reaction to stress
    developed high cholesterol three years later
  • 22% of people who had moderate reactions to stress
    developed high cholesterol three years later
  • 56% of those with the biggest reactions to stress
    developed high cholesterol three years later

See the pattern? Researchers say this shows that a person’s reaction to stress can significantly influence cholesterol levels. The results were the same for men and women. None of this should be surprising. We’ve covered stress in this bulletin, as it is one of the world’s biggest causes of illness. All of us live in a society that is capable of heaping stressful situations on our plate and leaving them there for a long time. Chronic stress damages every system in your body — the heart, blood vessels, lungs, digestion, brain, sensory organs, and immune system.

Your heart bears an enormous brunt. Stress is linked to a higher risk of all cardiovascular conditions. It causes your heart to pump fast, which makes your arteries constrict and, over time, block blood flow back to the heart. Your heart rhythms can be altered. To fight stress, the body releases fat into the bloodstream, which raises cholesterol levels. The blood becomes stickier, as your body prepares for an injury (that is never going to come), thus increasing the risk of a blood clot. And psychological stress over time can injure the lining of your blood vessels — this causes a spike in blood pressure.

Inside your brain, repeated stress causes hyperactivity in the critical hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal area. It also disrupts your serotonin levels — the nerve chemical that regulates your mood. (This explains why stress causes depression, anxiety and mood disorders.) Stress also lowers your white blood cell count, leaving your immune system weakened and your body prone to infection. Other negative effects include: hurting the digestive system and triggering excessive stomach acid; raising the risk of diabetes; chemical disruption that prevents erections; and disrupted reproductive hormones in women.

So, get on top of stress, and try to manage it on a daily basis.
If you suffer daily pressures, understand that the impact on your cholesterol levels will go on for years. You can’t eliminate stress; nobody can. But learn to handle it as best you can with exercise, counseling, meditation, and whatever you know relaxes you. Don’t stop until you’ve figured it out.
The measures you take could save your life!