BLOOD PRESSURE AND CHOLESTEROL
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are the precursors to developing heart disease and stroke.
For this reason, your blood pressure is typically checked each time you visit the doctor. When doctors take your blood pressure, they are measuring the pressure that blood exerts on the walls of the blood vessels as your heart contracts (systolic pressure) and relaxes (diastolic pressure).
High blood pressure (hypertension) results when blood places an excessive amount of force on the walls of the blood vessels. The heart and kidneys (which filter blood to regulate blood pressure) have to work harder than usual to do their jobs, leading to heart failure and kidney disease. Blood vessels in the brain may also weaken and burst, causing a stroke.
Blood pressure is the force that flowing blood exerts along walls of a blood vessel.
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) using an arm cuff device.
A healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg, or "120 over 80."
A person has high blood pressure if it is greater than 140/90.
We all need cholesterol because it is an important component of cell membranes and is used to make important vitamins and hormones.
But too much dietary cholesterol can be bad for your health.
Excess cholesterol settles on the inner walls of blood vessels, narrowing them and promoting blood clots. This can slow down or even stop the flow of blood passing through the vessels.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels often run in families. You may be at risk if a close relative (parent, grandparent, or sibling) has been diagnosed with one or both of these.
That's why it's important to know your family medical history. When you know you're at risk, you can take steps to prevent disease.
All adults regardless of family history should have their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked at least every two and five years, respectively.
The best way to both lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure is to avoid smoking tobacco. You can also reduce your risk by maintaining a
healthy body weight, participating in regular physical activity, and eating foods low in sodium, fat and cholesterol.
Saturated Fats - Boost both good and bad cholesterol.
Unsaturated Fats - Lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.
Trans Fats - The worst kind. Increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol.
It wasn't until Jan. 1, 2006, that the Food and Drug Administration required the listing of trans fat on nutrition labels.
A great way to lower your cholesterol is to watch the types of fat you eat. Our bodies contain both good and bad cholesterol. The types of fat we eat
influence the balance between good and bad cholesterol in the body.
A good rule of thumb is to eliminate trans fats from your diet, reduce saturated fats, and replace them with unsaturated fats. This will help you increase the good cholesterol in your body, and decrease the bad cholesterol.
Supported by the Utah Department of Health Chronic Disease Genomics Program through Cooperative Agreement Number U58/CCU822802 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.