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How Stress Can Raise Your Cholesterol Levels and What to Do About It

How stress, which can make your body react in different ways, may affect your health and cholesterol. A short guide:

1. Stress Response: When a person has stress, their body gets ready for a high-energy, fight-or-flight response¹. The body makes hormones like epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, and cortisol¹. Epinephrine makes the heart work harder, making the heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure go up¹. Cortisol makes the body release glucose and fatty acids to the muscles and blood for use as energy¹.

2. Effect on Cholesterol: These hormone levels usually stay high until the person deals with the stressful situation¹. But, sometimes the stress levels do not go down or take time to go back to their lower levels¹. These things may make cholesterol levels higher both in the long-term and the short-term¹.

3. Hemoconcentration: When a person has stress, they may have hemoconcentration¹. This makes the blood lose fluid, and the parts of the blood, including cholesterol, become more thick¹. This could be one way that stress makes cholesterol levels higher in the short term¹.

4. Bad Habits: Stress can also make people do bad habits such as eating poorly, not exercising, and smoking, which can make cholesterol levels higher indirectly¹²³.

5. Studies: A 2013 study found a link between job stress and bad cholesterol levels¹. Another study in 2017 found that mental stress made triglycerides and LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) higher, and HDL (the “good” cholesterol) lower¹.

In summary, while stress may have some effect on cholesterol levels, the proof is not clear. More studies are needed to fully know the connection between stress and cholesterol.

(Note: This is a general guide and different people might need different things. Always talk to a doctor for advice that is right for you.)

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