Most people check their cholesterol and blood pressure levels, but it is also important to monitor triglyceride levels. High triglycerides in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease, but lifestyle changes that can improve your overall health can also reduce your triglycerides.
Triglycerides are a type of lipid or fat in the blood. After eating, the body immediately converts the calories it doesn’t need into triglycerides, which are stored in the body’s fat cells. When you need calories, hormones will release the triglyceride between meals to serve as energy.
If you always eat more calories than your need, especially foods high in carbohydrates, you may have high triglycerides or hypertriglyceridemia.
With a simple blood test you can check if your triglyceride level is within the healthy range.
|Normal||Below 150 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) or below 1.7 millimoles per litre (mmol/L)|
|Borderline high||150 – 199 mg/dL (1.8 – 2.2mmol/L)|
|High||200 – 499 mg/dL (2.3 – 5.6mmol/L)|
|Very high||500 mg/dL or higher (5.7 mmol/L or higher)|
Your healthcare professional will check for high cholesterol during a cholesterol test, also called a lipid profile or lipid panel. This test requires you to come fasting for the blood draw to get an accurate triglyceride reading.
Cholesterol and triglycerides are different forms of lipids in the blood.
High triglycerides can contribute to the thickening of arterial walls or the hardening of arteries (arteriosclerosis). This condition increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Extremely high levels of triglycerides may also result in acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
High triglyceride levels usually indicate other conditions that elevate the risk of stroke and heart disease, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, high triglycerides, obesity and metabolic syndrome (a group of conditions that include excess fat around the waist).
High triglycerides may indicate:
In some cases, high triglycerides are a side effect of certain medications. They include:
Making healthy lifestyle choices is necessary to lower triglycerides. These changes include:
Consider exercising for at least 30 minutes on most days a week. Regular exercise can reduce triglyceride levels and improve your good cholesterol. Ensure you engage in more physical activity during your daily tasks. For instance, you can walk during your break or climb the stairs.
Simple carbohydrates like sugar and food made with fructose or flour may increase your triglyceride level.
Aim to reduce your calorie intake if your hypertriglyceridemia is within the mild to moderate range. Extra calories will be converted into triglycerides and stored as fat. Reducing calories will reduce triglyceride levels.
Opt for healthier fats from plant sources, such as canola oils, instead of saturated fats in meats. You can eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or mackerel. Avoid trans fats and foods containing fats or hydrogenated oils.
Alcohol is high in sugar and calories and also has a profound effect on triglycerides. Avoid drinking alcohol if you have severe hypertriglyceridemia.
If healthy lifestyle changes aren’t sufficient to control your high triglycerides, the doctor may recommend the following:
Your doctor may recommend these cholesterol-lowering medications if you have a history of diabetes, blocked arteries, or poor cholesterol. Common statins include rosuvastatin calcium (Crestor) and atorvastatin calcium (Lipitor).
Fibrates medications like gemfibrozil (Lopid) and fenofibrate (Fenoglide, TricCor) can reduce triglyceride levels. Doctors do not recommend this medication for people with severe liver or kidney disease.
Fish oil, also called omega-3 fatty acids, can reduce triglyceride levels. Prescription fish oil preparations like Lovaza contain more active fatty acids than many non-prescription supplements. Taking high levels of fish oil can disrupt blood clotting, so consult your doctor before taking these supplements.
Niacin, also called nicotinic acid, can reduce triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol). Consult your doctor before taking over-the-counter niacin because it can affect other medications and result in significant side effects.
If your doctor recommends triglyceride-lowering medication, ensure you take it as prescribed. Your lifestyle also matters, so make healthy lifestyle changes.
You can undergo your triglyceride test at our clinic today or call us on 02071830244 to schedule an appointment for the test.