Causes of high triglycerides

Blood pressure and cholesterol aren’t the only things that need to be paid attention to in regards to heart health; triglycerides should also be in that category. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood that the body uses for energy; they are the main storage type of fat in the body.  When we eat, the calories that our bodies don’t immediately use are converted into triglycerides for storage; between meals when our bodies will need energy (since it won’t get it from food), these triglycerides are released as the energy source. When we regularly eat more calories than we burn (typically carbohydrates and fat), we will probably have high triglycerides; keep in mind that there are other causes, too, that will be discussed later in this article.

As with most types of fat, a certain amount of triglycerides is necessary for good health, but if the amount is too high, problems can arise, such as an increased risk for heart disease. Typically, during a blood cholesterol test, you will get a result for triglycerides as well. Here are the numbers and their meaning: less than 150 is normal; 150-199 is borderline high; 200-499 is high; and 500 or higher is very high. It is important to be able to recognize causes of high triglycerides; some of these causes are not your fault. Lastly, it is important to know how to lower high triglycerides.

Causes of High Triglycerides
There are different causes of high triglycerides, some under more control than others. It is possible, but rare, for high triglycerides to run in families. High triglycerides, in general, are a part of metabolic syndrome, which includes: high triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and too much fat around the waist.

Another medical condition. Many times, high triglycerides can have another medical condition as the cause: obesity, poorly controlled diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, regularly eating more calories than you burn (and eating sugary or high carbohydrate foods often), drinking a lot of alcohol, or inherited lipid disorders.

Certain medications. Certain medications may also be the culprit: tamoxifen (breast cancer treatment), steroids, beta-blockers (used to treat heart conditions), diuretics (make you urinate), estrogen (a female hormone used for hormone replacement therapy during menopause), and birth control pills.

Age. As we get older, triglyceride levels may steadily increase. However, other factors may have a more significant impact.

How to Lower Triglycerides
Your doctor will help you come up with a plan for lowering triglycerides. It will include changing the diet and other lifestyle behaviors. If you’re overweight, losing some of that, about 5-10 pounds, will lower your triglycerides. Similar to that, cut out any extra calories and limit your intake of refined sugars; eating healthier fats is also a good way to lower triglycerides. Alcohol is high in calories and carbohydrates, so limiting your consumption will do wonders for high triglycerides, especially since alcohol has a particularly strong effect on raising them. Being more active, say exercising for at least 30 minutes every day, can lower triglycerides, among other health benefits. It is also possible, but some people may not opt to, to take medicines for high triglycerides.

However, in some cases, medication may be a necessary step in those when modifying lifestyle behaviors and changing the diet are simply not enough. There are a few common medications that are taken, and most of them work to also lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol: Niacin, Fibrates, Statins, or Omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Keep in mind, that even if you do have to take medication, the lifestyle behaviors and diet make a difference too and eventually, you will be able to go off the medication if you follow the directions of the medicine and incorporate lifestyle changes too.

Last updated on Aug 22nd, 2010 and filed under Cardiovascular Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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