Do stress and anxiety influence cholesterol levels?
Q: I am 30 years old, and 79 kg. Recently I got a lipid profile test done and the results were: triglycerides: 188, HDL Cholesterol: 26 and LDL Cholesterol: 102. The good cholesterol is lower than the required level of 40. I've been through some highly anxious moments over the past 3 months. Does one’s anxiety level play a role in this? Is this a very high-risk situation? Incidentally, my mother’s triglyceride levels have been high and she’s been on medication. I am a vegetarian. I go for morning walks for about 30 minutes, 5 days a week. My paternal grandfather died of a heart attack but none of his children have had any heart disorders. There is none from my mother’s side who has a heart problem. Please let me know the next course of action.
A:You don't have a family history and that is reassuring. There is not much evidence that HDL varies with stress. It decreases due to lack of exercise, increased consumption of processed carbohydrates that are easily digested (like fast foods, white rice, and sugar in sweets, having a tummy that sticks out (central obesity). Much of the variation is genetic. It increases with natural diets rich in fibre, exercise, and oils like olive and mustard that contain monounsaturated fatty acids. You also need to test for Lipoprotein (a) levels. If Lp(a) is not high, low HDL loses much of its sting. You can retest your lipids after these lifestyle modifications that I have suggested.