Coping With Stress Helps Cholesterol
Good Coping Skills May Raise 'Good' Cholesterol Levels
WebMD News Archive
Coping Skills Aid HDL Cholesterol continued...
"People who coped well had higher levels of HDL than people who didn't
cope well," she says.
She cannot cite an exact improvement in HDL or an average HDL level among
those who coped well. "This is simply a correlational study," she says,
finding an association between good coping skills and better HDL levels.
The amount of stress you deal with isn't as important, they also found, as
how you deal with it. "Stress doesn't matter nearly as much as how you cope
with it," she says.
The more hostile the men were, the worse the LDL and triglyceride levels,
the researchers also found.
While the study included only men, Aldwin says she would think the same
findings would apply to women.
Perspective: Stress and Cholesterol
It's been known for years, Aldwin says, that stress affects LDL and makes it
"Stress raises total cholesterol levels in general and it raises LDL
levels," she says.
The results "are consistent" with research by Peter Vitaliano, PhD,
professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, psychology, and health
services at the University of Washington in Seattle. The new study,
Vitaliano says, "adds to the body of research on how hostility relates to
health, in particular heart disease."
Other research, he says, also found that "avoidance" coping, such as
blaming oneself, is unhealthy and related to hostility and anger. "Both of
those are related to blood pressure elevation and lower HDL," he says.
"Hostility is also associated with higher blood glucose levels in
healthy people and in diabetics," he says, "and that raises the risk of
Hostile people, he says, "often use emotion-focused coping," he
says. "They use emotions like anger and avoidance instead of problem
Ideally, total cholesterol levels should be below 200 mg/dL, according to
the American Heart Association. HDL levels 60 mg/dL and above are
heart-protective, while levels below 40 in men and below 50 in women are
considered low and a risk factor for heart disease. LDL below 100 mg/dL is
optimal, and below 130 is "near or above optimal." Triglycerides should
be below 150 mg/dL.