High cholesterol and high blood pressure are two major contributors to heart disease, but often have no symptoms until it’s too late.
When you have high LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, cholesterol builds up in the walls of your arteries, causing them to become very narrow (hardening of the arteries). The narrower your arteries, the less oxygen-rich blood freely flows to your heart. This can cause chest pain or a heart attach. The buildup of cholesterol in your arteries can eventually come loose, leading to artery blockage or a heart attack.
- Begin checking your cholesterol regularly at age 20
- Have your cholesterol checked more often if you are age 45 or older, overweight, physically inactive, eat a high-fat diet or have diabetes (these factors increase your risk of developing high cholesterol)
- Inform your care provider if you are suffering from an illness or extreme stress (these factors can affect your cholesterol levels)
High blood pressure makes your heart work harder than it should. Like high cholesterol, it can restrict blood flow to your heart. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart failure because the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. It can also lead to stroke by breaking weakened blood vessels which then bleed into the brain.
- For most people, a healthy blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg
- Check your blood pressure regularly- you likely will have no immediate symptoms if your blood pressure changes
- The first step to controlling high blood pressure should be through a combination of healthy lifestyle changes
- Eating less salt (sodium) and more potassium
- Drinking less alcohol and quitting smoking
- Exercising more (at least 30 minutes per day)
- Losing weight
- Managing stress levels in a healthy way (meditating, taking a walk, etc.)
Although high cholesterol and high blood pressure often have no immediate symptoms, controlling them is vital to your heart health. Ask your CarePro pharmacist if you have questions about how to lower your cholesterol or blood pressure.