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Managing your blood pressure and cholesterol

Managing your blood pressure and cholesterol

We all know that February is heart month where we bring awareness to cardiovascular diseases. Some may think high blood pressure is the main factor for cardiovascular disease. However, high blood pressure is just one main factor. Did you know the link between high blood pressure and high cholesterol puts you at a greater risk for heart disease?

What is the relationship between high cholesterol and high blood pressure?

High cholesterol and high blood pressure are the two main risk factors for heart disease and stroke. They are among a cluster of conditions that together are called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome raises your risk for diabetes as well as heart disease and stroke (as mentioned previously).

When both high blood pressure and high cholesterol occur together, they can damage blood vessels, greatly increasing the risk for future complications. To prevent heart disease and stroke, it’s vital to get your cholesterol and blood pressure under control.

Does lowering your cholesterol lower your blood pressure?

Certain lifestyle changes that lower cholesterol can also lower your blood pressure. Such as: eating a healthy diet and exercising can help lower both cholesterol and blood pressure.

Medications that lower cholesterol do not have as much of an impact on lowering blood pressure, so people with both high blood pressure and high cholesterol typically need separate medications that target each problem separately.

Tips to managing your blood pressure

One symptom of metabolic syndrome in adults is when one or both blood pressure numbers are high. Blood pressure numbers of 120/80 mm Hg or higher are considered high blood pressure, or hypertension.

To keep your numbers down:

  • Lose weight, if needed
  • Limit saturated fat, salt, and cholesterol in your diet
  • Get regular exercise
  • Don’t smoke. Non-smokers have fewer and less severe diabetes-related complications and better control of their insulin dosing and blood sugar.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol
  • Take any prescribed medications as directed.

Your blood pressure can easily be checked with at home monitoring or making an appointment with your primary caredoctor to get screened.

RELATED: Checking your blood pressure at home

What can I do to manage my cholesterol?

One thing to note is that high cholesterol can start early in life and continue throughout your lifetime. It can increase your risk of developing heart diseases over time.

Besides taking medication to help maintain normal cholesterol levels, the same lifestyle changes you make to keep your blood pressure numbers down, would be the same for lowering your cholesterol: quit smoking if you smoke, increase your physical activity, eat heart healthy foods, and lose weight if you are overweight.

How often do I need to get screened?

Managing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels is an important part of staying healthy.

Blood pressure screening. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, so it can’t be detected without being measured. Follow these guidelines for blood pressure screening:

  • If your blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg - get it checked at least once every two years, starting at age 20.
  • If your blood pressure is higher than 120/80 mmHg - get it checked more often

Cholesterol screening. High cholesterol doesn’t have any symptoms, so a blood test is the only way to know if your cholesterol levels are higher than they should be. Follow these guidelines for cholesterol screening:

  • Normal-risk adults - have cholesterol checked once ever 4-6 months, starting at age 20.
  • Higher-risk adults - get it checked more often if you have other risk factors such as: a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol, diabetes, older age, being overweight.

For more information on heart and vascular care, visit