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Triglycerides: Why do they matter?

Triglycerides: Why do they matter?

Triglycerides are a significant way of measuring heart health. Here’s why triglycerides matter and how to proceed if your triglycerides are too much.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you have been keeping track of your blood circulation pressure and cholesterol levels, there’s another thing you may want to monitor: your triglycerides.

Having a higher degree of triglycerides in your blood can boost your risk of cardiovascular disease. However the same lifestyle choices that promote general health can help decrease your triglycerides, too.

What exactly are triglycerides?

Triglycerides certainly are a kind of fat (lipid) within your blood.

Once you eat, the body converts any calories it generally does not have to use immediately into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals.

In the event that you regularly eat even more calories than you burn, particularly from high-carbohydrate foods, you might have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia).

What’s considered normal?

A straightforward blood test can reveal whether your triglycerides belong to a wholesome range:

  • Normal Significantly less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or significantly less than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
  • Borderline high 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
  • High 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.three to five 5.6 mmol/L)
  • High 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above)

Your physician will usually look for high triglycerides within a cholesterol test, to create a lipid panel or lipid profile. You need to fast before blood could be drawn for a precise triglyceride measurement.

What’s the difference between triglycerides and cholesterol?

Triglycerides and cholesterol will vary forms of lipids that circulate in your blood:

  • Triglycerides store unused calories and offer the body with energy.
  • Cholesterol can be used to create cells and certain hormones.

Why do high triglycerides matter?

High triglycerides may donate to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (arteriosclerosis) which escalates the threat of stroke, coronary attack and cardiovascular disease. Extremely high triglycerides may also cause acute inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).

High triglycerides tend to be an indicator of other conditions that raise the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, including obesity and metabolic syndrome a cluster of conditions which includes an excessive amount of fat round the waist, raised blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood sugar levels and abnormal cholesterol levels.

High triglycerides may also be an indicator of:

  • Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome a disorder when raised blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugar levels occur together, upping your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Low degrees of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism)
  • Certain rare genetic conditions that affect how the body converts fat to energy

Sometimes high triglycerides certainly are a side-effect of taking certain medications, such as for example:

  • Diuretics
  • Estrogen and progestin
  • Retinoids
  • Steroids
  • Beta blockers
  • Some immunosuppressants
  • Some HIV medications

What’s the simplest way to lower triglycerides?

Healthy lifestyle choices are fundamental:

  • Exercise regularly. Shoot for at the very least 30 minutes of exercise of all or all days of the week. Regular physical exercise can lower triglycerides and boost “good” cholesterol. Make an effort to incorporate more exercise into your daily tasks for instance, climb the stairs at the job or go for a walk during breaks.
  • Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, such as for example sugar and foods made out of bleached flour or fructose, can increase triglycerides.
  • Shed weight. Should you have mild to moderate hypertriglyceridemia, concentrate on cutting calories. Extra calories are changed into triglycerides and stockpiled as fat. Cutting your calories will certainly reduce triglycerides.
  • Choose healthier fats. Trade saturated fat within meats for healthier fat within plants, such as for example olive and canola oils. Rather than red meat, try fish saturated in omega-3 essential fatty acids such as for example mackerel or salmon. Avoid trans fats or foods with hydrogenated oils or fats.
  • Limit just how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol is saturated in calories and sugar and contains an especially potent influence on triglycerides. For those who have severe hypertriglyceridemia, avoid drinking any alcohol.

Think about medication?

If healthy changes in lifestyle aren’t enough to regulate high triglycerides, your physician might recommend:

  • Statins. These cholesterol-lowering medications could be recommended if you too have poor cholesterol numbers or perhaps a history of blocked arteries or diabetes. Types of statins include atorvastatin calcium (Lipitor) and rosuvastatin calcium (Crestor).
  • Fibrates. Fibrate medications, such as for example fenofibrate (TriCor, Fenoglide, others) and gemfibrozil (Lopid), can decrease your triglyceride levels. Fibrates aren’t used when you have severe kidney or liver disease.
  • Fish oil. Also called omega-3 essential fatty acids, fish oil might help decrease your triglycerides. Prescription fish oil preparations, such as for example Lovaza, contain more-active essential fatty acids than many nonprescription supplements. Fish oil taken at high levels can hinder blood clotting, so speak to your doctor before taking any supplements.
  • Niacin. Niacin, sometimes called nicotinic acid, can decrease your triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol the “bad” cholesterol. Speak to your doctor before taking over-the-counter niacin since it can connect to other medications and cause significant unwanted effects.

If your physician prescribes medication to lessen your triglycerides, take the medication as prescribed. And remember the importance of the healthy changes in lifestyle you have made. Medications might help but lifestyle matters, too.

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Sept. 03, 2022

  1. High blood triglycerides. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/high-blood-triglycerides. Accessed Aug. 7, 2018.
  2. Bonow RO, et al., eds. Risk markers and the principal prevention of coronary disease. In: Braunwald’s CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 30, 2018.
  3. Kumar P, et al., eds. Lipid and metabolic disorders. In: Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. https://clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 22, 2018.
  4. AskMayoExpert. Triglycerides (adults). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2018.
  5. AskMayoExpert. Hyperlipidemia (adult). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2018.

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