Understanding – Triglyceride
Triglycerides are found in both vegetable and animal fats. So, they are fats which are very common and approximately 95 % of the fats we consume are triglycerides. After they have been digested, triglycerides move around in the bloodstream waiting for cells to use them for energy. The unused triglycerides are then stored as fat to supply energy to the body during the periods when no food is taken into the body.
If you consume more food than you need, you end up being too fat or obese, with high blood triglyceride levels. High blood triglyceride levels are associated with greater possibility of diseases such as heart diseases. Hypertriglyceridemia is a medical term for high triglycerides.
Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors
High levels of triglycerides are linked to a group of health problems called metabolic syndrome. A person suffering from metabolic syndrome has greater possibilities of getting diabetes, heart diseases and stroke.
Any person with three of the factors given below is considered as having metabolic syndrome:
- Abdominal obesity having extra fat at the abdomen.
- Hypertension(high blood pressure).
- Excessive blood sugar.
- High blood triglycerides.
- HDL cholesterol lower than LDL cholesterol.
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Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Similar to triglycerides, cholesterol is also a type of fat which moves around in the bloodstream. When it comes to usage by the body, the similarity ends. Triglycerides can provide energy but cholesterol is for such metabolic processes as the production of certain hormones and cell-building.
HDL (High density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein) are two types of cholesterol. Over a period of time, high levels of LDL leads to fatty plaques forming on the walls of blood vessels. The process is known as atherosclerosis. With plaque on the walls, the blood vessels become so narrow, they restrict blood flow. Later, the blood vessels can become blocked and this leads to stroke or heart attack.
So, high triglyceride levels can lead atherosclerosis. Researchers discovered that people whose triglycerides are high have levels of HDL which are low. HDL is known as the good cholesterol which assists arteries to remove their fat. Low levels of HDL are a risk factor for heart disease.
High Triglycerides Causes
In most cases, high triglycerides are cause by habitual overeating. There are also other factors which can bring about high triglycerides and they are:
- Hypothyroidism (Not enough thyroid hormones).
- Badly managed diabetes.
- Certain kinds of liver disease.
- Certain kinds of kidney disease.
- Too much alcohol consumption.
- Harmful side-effect of certain medications.( see Insulin Side Effects)
- Certain genetic problems, such as familial hypertriglyceridemia as well as familial combined hyperlipidemia (both triglyceride as well as LDL levels are raised).
High Triglycerides Diagnosis
A blood test is used to test for high triglycerides. For accuracy of results, you may have to take the tests at least twice. You have to fast a minimum 12 hours before each test as food, more so fats, can raise the level of your triglycerides and distort the result.
Measurement of triglycerides is in mmol/L. The following are the measurements and their ranges.
- Normal less than 1.7 mmol/L.
- Borderline high from 1.7 to 2 mmol/L
- High from 2 to 6 mmol/L.
- Very high more than 6 mmol/L.
It is possible that a doctor may want to check your levels of cholesterol. In most cases, whenever high triglycerides are detected, high cholesterol levels are also found and, sometimes, the condition is called combined hyperlipidemia.
High Triglycerides Treatment
In many cases, high levels of triglycerides can be countered with some lifestyle changes such as:
- Not smoking.
- Getting rid of extra body fat through choice of the right food and everyday exercise.
- Drinking less alcohol. The calories and the sugar content in alcohol can increase the level of triglycerides.
- Consuming more fish. You should eat fish known for their omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, mackerel, tuna and trout. Triglyceride levels can be lowered with large doses of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Not eating food which contains too much sugar, including candies. Eat foods which have a low glycaemic index (GI) like wholegrains and their products.
- Eating more fiber-rich food.
- Eating less food, especially those foods with high fat content.
- Exercising each day for a minimum of half an hour.
- Taking good control of diseases which occur together, including diabetes and high blood pressure.
The need for medications for high levels of triglyceride
There are times when balanced meals and everyday exercise do not reduce the high levels of triglycerides. This can happen if you are already suffering from familial hypertriglyceridemia or heart disease. Medications which may be prescribed by your doctor could be nicotinic acids or fibrates. When necessary, drugs to reduce high levels of cholesterol are also prescribed.
To manage high levels of triglycerides with medicine, the following advices are given:
- Always follow instructions when taking prescribed medications.
- Do not believe that medications can counter the problems brought on by unhealthy living. Having balanced meals, everyday exercise, and having the right weight are the most effective strategies in the management of high levels of triglycerides.
- It there are side effects from your medication, ask your doctor about them. Some of the known side-effects from medication can include diarrhea, indigestion, muscle problems and fever.
- Approximately 95 % of all the fats consumed are triglycerides.
- After digestion, triglycerides move around in the bloodstream until the cells use them as energy.
- If you usually eat more calories than you can use, you may get raised blood triglyceride levels. This is associated with a greater possibility of diseases such as heart disease.
- A healthy lifestyle can assure you of normal triglyceride levels. Go for regular exercise, balanced meals and maintain the right weight for your height.