Stress may be negatively affecting your cholesterol

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ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI)- Doctors have known for years that stress raises cholesterol, but they often focus too much on diet alone.

People dealing with high levels of stress may notice they stop exercising or adding more unhealthy food to their diet.

Dr. Michael Lim, a Cardiologist with SLUCare and SSM Health SLU Hospital stopped by to discuss with Pertz the effect stress has on your health and cholesterol.

Stress also stimulates the release of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, part of the 'Fight or Flight' mechanism the body adopts to protect itself. Those hormones in turn stimulate the release of triglycerides and free fatty acids, which over time can boost LDL cholesterol.

A classic study was conducted that documented a sharp rise in the cholesterol levels of 18 tax accountants around the April 15 deadline for filing income tax returns. Their total cholesterol rose on average from 2016 mg/day in January to 232 on April 15, then dropped back down to 215 in June.

The diets and exercise levels of the accountants remained consistent during the study period, suggesting the changes were due to stress.