Low Levels Are Usually Protective
It is well known that high triglycerides are dangerous, but little is known about the influence of low levels on health. Studies suggest that in healthy people, low triglyceride levels are beneficial. Low triglycerides are also good for people with diabetes and might also be protective against heart attacks .
One study even suggests that the lower a persons triglycerides are, the less likely they will be to die from any cause. In this study, almost 14k people were followed for 24 years. The scientist found that levels below 89 mg/dL thats almost twice lower than the borderline-normal value of 150 mg/dL were associated with a 41% lower risk of dying than high levels
So can your levels ever be too low to do any harm?
We still dont have any definitive answers, but we can look for some clues.
Know Your Triglyceride Numbers
A blood test called a lipid panel checks both your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Usually, your doctor will ask that you fast, or not eat or drink anything other than water, for 9-12 hours before the test. YouÃ¢ll get blood taken from a vein in your arm. Some labs offer non-fasting lipid panels, or they may prick your finger for blood.
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline: 150 to 199 mg/dL
- High: 200 to 499 mg/dL
- Very High: 500 mg/dL or above
Anyone over age 20 needs to get regular tests to track their cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to the American Heart Association.
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Atherosclerosis And Cardiovascular Disease
Despite being called good cholesterol, research suggests that very high levels of HDL may increase your risk of mortality.
In a 2017 Danish study , researchers analyzed the rate of mortality in groups of 52,268 European men and 64,240 women over an average of 6.4 years.
The researchers found the lowest mortality rates at HDL levels of 73 mg/dL in men and 93 mg/dL in women. Mortality rates increased significantly with HDL levels above 97 mg/dL in men and 135 mg/dL in women.
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Medications May Be Needed For High Triglyceride Levels
Sometimes, healthy eating and regular exercise cant lower high triglyceride levels. This may be the case, for example, if you have familial hypertriglyceridemia or if you already have heart disease. Your doctor may prescribe medication such as fibrates or nicotinic acids. Drugs to help lower high blood cholesterol may also be prescribed, if necessary.Suggestions for managing high triglyceride levels with medication include:
- Always take prescription medications exactly as instructed.
- See your doctor if you are having side effects from the medication. Known medication side effects may include indigestion, diarrhoea, fever or muscle problems.
- Dont assume that medications will somehow overcome the hazards of an unhealthy lifestyle. A healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining an appropriate weight for your height are the most important management strategies for high triglycerides.
What Do The Results Mean
Cholesterol is usually measured in milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood. The information below will help you understand what your test results mean. In general, low LDL levels and high HDL cholesterol levels are good for heart health.
|Total Cholesterol Level|
|Less than 40 mg/dL||A major risk factor for heart disease|
The LDL listed on your results may say calculated. This means that your LDL level is an estimate based on your total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides. Your LDL level may also be measured directly from your blood sample. Either way, you want your LDL number to be low.
A healthy cholesterol level for you may depend on your age, family history, lifestyle, and other risk factors for heart disease, such as high triglyceride levels. Your provider can explain whats right for you.
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Should You Worry About High Triglycerides
These blood fats can be one of the signs of metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
Until recently, triglycerides tended to get less attention when looking at cardiovascular risk compared to LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. Theres no question that extremely high levels spell trouble and can lead to acute pancreatitis. But what about treating lower levels of triglycerides? Recent evidence suggests you should work to reduce triglyceride levels of they are higher than normal, especially if you have heart disease or have other risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking.
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What Is High Cholesterol Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
High cholesterol is a condition that occurs when levels of cholesterol in your blood are elevated enough to cause health problems, including heart disease and stroke. Sometimes known as hyperlipidemia, high cholesterol is painless and doesnt cause any symptoms until a person develops severe heart disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and stroke is the fifth leading cause.
Produced by your liver, cholesterol is a dense, fatty substance thats found in every cell of your body, and it is considered essential to many life-sustaining functions. It helps your body make hormones and vitamin D, and its also found in compounds that your body creates to help you digest food, such as bile.
Circulating in the bloodstream in small bundles of fat and protein called lipoproteins, cholesterol comes in two primary types: low-density lipoprotein , which contributes to the buildup of fatty plaques, and high-density lipoprotein , which is thought to protect from heart disease and stroke. A blood test known as a lipid panel can measure both LDL and HDL cholesterol, as well as triglycerides, the most common type of fat in the blood.
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When To See A Doctor
High cholesterol has no symptoms. If youâve not sure about your levels, ask your doctor. They may do a simple blood test to check it. Doctors recommend that all adults older than 20 years old should have their cholesterol levels checked every 4 to 6 years.
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor may ask you to change your diet and make lifestyle changes to get it under control. If that doesnât work, you doctor may prescribe medications to help.
Triglycerides: Why They Matter
Triglycerides are one of the types of fat in our bloodstream that provide energy for our bodies.
Whenever you eat a meal, your body processes the food to produce energy to fuel daily activities. Excess energy from food gets turned into triglycerides,¹ which are stored in our fat cells.
When required, these fat stores can quickly turn back into energy for our bodies to use between meals. Triglyceride levels can vary based on recent food intake, so the levels are usually measured via blood tests after 8 to 12 hours of fasting .
Normal triglyceride levels are less than 150 mg/dL.² Having triglyceride levels that are too high or too low can damage your health.
High triglyceride levels³ can increase your risk of developing heart disease, strokes, and severe inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis.
However, having excessively low triglyceride levels can also be dangerous and indicate underlying health conditions.
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The Pros And Cons Of Total Cholesterol Hdl Ldl And Triglyceride Testing
Time to get your cholesterol checked. Okay, but which test should you get? It’s not so simple anymore. Here is a rundown of some of the choices and their pros and cons:
Total cholesterol. This is the simplest and least expensive test. The test doesn’t require any sophisticated lab work, either. The simple, do-it-yourself home cholesterol tests measure total cholesterol.
But total cholesterol includes both “good” high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and the “bad” varieties, chiefly low-density lipoprotein and very-low-density lipoprotein . So, if your total cholesterol is in the desirable category, it’s possible that you may have unhealthy levels of HDL and LDL and VLDL . Think of total cholesterol as a first glimpse, a peek. Doctors are not supposed to make any treatment decisions based on this number alone.
Cholesterol levels can be lowered by stress or infection. An injury, cancer, stroke, or heart attack may have the same effect. So, if your cholesterol levels are unusually high or low, your doctor will probably want to repeat the test some weeks later. Abnormal readings may also lead to tests for other medical problems.
HDL cholesterol. HDL wins its laurels as the “good” cholesterol because it sponges up cholesterol from blood vessel walls and ferries it to the liver for disposal. In contrast, LDL deposits the harmful fat in vessel walls.
An HDL level of 60 or above is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, and below 40 is associated with a higher risk.
How To Limit Sugar In Your Diet
A sugary diet can spell trouble, not only for your cholesterol levels, but also your overall health. Limiting added sugars will help cut down on empty calories and can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is good for heart health.
While your body doesnât need sugars to work well, eating small amounts wonât harm your health. Women should limit themselves to 6 teaspoons per day. Men should shoot for 9 teaspoons each day.
If youâre looking to cut down on sugar in your diet, you can:
- Limit foods with added sugars like candy, cakes, or cookies.
- Cut back on sweetened soft drinks and sodas.
- Avoid refined carbs like white bread and pasta.
- Drink fewer alcoholic beverages.
- Swap sugary breakfast cereals or bars for whole foods like fruits, oatmeal, and yogurt.
- Check food labels for total added sugars.
- Choose foods that are low on the glycemic index, which help keep your blood sugar level stable. This includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Regular exercise can also help burn any extra calories you take through a sugary diet.
If youâre looking to cut back on sugar and youâre not sure how to get started, ask your doctor or a nutritionist for help.
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Which Medications Improve Tg/hdl
- Statins. The major impact of statins on TG/HDL is to lower TG. But usually, statins are given to lower LDL. Sometimes they can also increase HDL levels but still not as much as how they lower TG. They can lower TG by as much as 50% .
- Prescription-strength niacin
- Prescription-strength omega-3s. Icosapent ethyl , Epanova, and Lovaza are prescription forms of omega-3s
What Raises Your Triglycerides The Most
What Foods and Drinks Cause High Triglycerides? Sugary food and drinks, saturated fats, refined grains, alcohol, and high-calorie foods can all lead to high levels of triglycerides. If you have high triglycerides, avoiding these food categories can help bring your levels down.
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Finding Out Your Triglycerides Levels
Triglycerides are measured with a simple blood test. Triglyceride levels should be measured when you have a cholesterol test as they can also contribute to your risk of developing heart disease, and other disease of the heart and blood vessels. The triglyceride test measures the triglycerides carried in chylomicrons and VLDL cholesterol. National guidelines in the UK no longer recommend a fasting blood test .
What should your triglyceride levels be?
HEART UK experts state that we should aim for a non-fasting triglyceride level below 2.3mmol/L.
If your doctor has asked you to fast for a test then your triglyceride level should be below 1.7mmol/L. This fasting test number is lower because only the triglycerides made by the liver and carried in the VLDL cholesterol will be measured not the triglycerides you get from food. As you have not eaten, there will be no chylomicrons present in your blood.
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How To Prepare For The Test
You should not eat for 8 to 12 hours before the test.
Alcohol and some medicines can interfere with blood test results.
- Make sure your health care provider knows what medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
- Your provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines before you have this test.
- DO NOT stop or change your medicines without talking to your provider first.
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When Should I Get My Triglyceride Levels Checked
If you are aged 45 years or older, you should have your cholesterol and triglycerides checked every 5 years. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people should start regular triglyceride checks from age 35.
The level of triglycerides in your blood is higher after you eat, so you will need to fast for 9 to 12 hours before the test.
Talk to your doctor about your results and what to do if your levels are high.
What Not To Eat The Foods To Avoid
How to behave on the opposite side, that is: what not to eat in case of high triglycerides? First, we need to reduce the intake of as much as possible simple sugars. It is also necessary to strongly limit or better still eliminate those foods which promote the increase of LDL cholesterol .
In case of particularly high levels of triglycerides it is recommended to further reduce, in any case by relying on your doctor, thecarbohydrate intake. You may need to limit your intake to whole grains or rice only, avoiding bread and pasta altogether.
Heres a summary of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
Avoid industrial trans fats.
Replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats, and aim to get less than 10% of your calories from saturated fats.
Reduce calories from solid animal fats with plant oils when possible.
Prioritize seafood , lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes , nuts, seeds, and soy products over red and processed meats as sources of protein.
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Why Do Triglycerides Matter
Having high triglyceride levels isnt good for your body. High triglycerides can lead to the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. This condition can worsen, leading to coronary artery disease.
If triglyceride levels become extremely high, you may develop pancreatitis, a condition that causes the pancreas to become inflamed.
High triglycerides can also indicate other negative health conditions that can increase your risk of certain cardiovascular threats. These include:
- Metabolic Syndrome. This refers to a cluster of health conditions that can place you at a higher risk of cardiovascular events. They include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, insulin resistance , and excess weight.
- Type 2 Diabetes. Having high levels of triglycerides can indicate you may also be prediabetic or have developed insulin resistance. A blood test can measure your blood sugar levels.
- Hypothyroidism. In some cases, high blood triglycerides may indicate that your thyroid isnt producing enough hormones.
Because of the increased risks to your heart health, its important to ensure your triglyceride levels are in a healthy range. The good news is that its easy to keep your triglyceride levels low with a few simple dietary and lifestyle changes.
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Metabolic Syndrome Risk Factors
High triglyceride levels are associated with a collection of disorders known as metabolic syndrome. A person with metabolic syndrome has an increased risk of developing diabetes, stroke or heart disease.A person is classed as having metabolic syndrome when they have any three of the following factors:
- Central obesity excess fat in and around the stomach
- High blood pressure
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Not A Direct Measurement
The LDL measurement is typically considered the most important aspect of your cholesterol profile when it comes to assessing risk. Before you panic about your results, it’s crucial to know that the traditional cholesterol test does not directly measure LDL. The fasting cholesterol test calculates your LDL using a formula called the Friedewald equation. It takes into account your total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein and triglycerides to make an estimate. Because of this limitation, results can be misleading under certain circumstances.
Indian Diet To Reduce Cholesterol & Triglyceride : Tip 5 Milk And Milk Products Are Fine In Moderation
Unless you are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy, avoiding milk just doesnt make any sense. Full fat milk contains saturated fat. However, we cant restrict milks nutritive value only to this. Its a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals also. To balance it out, try consuming double-toned milk or skimmed milk and its product.
A glass of milk can easily be part of your daily diet. If you find difficulty digesting milk, try milk products like curd, buttermilk as mid-morning/ afternoon snacks or to finish lunch.
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How Can I Lower My Ldl Level
There are two main ways to lower your LDL cholesterol:
- Therapeutic lifestyle changes . TLC includes three parts:
- Heart-healthy eating. A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat. Examples of eating plans that can lower your cholesterol include the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet and the DASH eating plan.
- Weight Management. If you are overweight, losing weight can help lower your LDL cholesterol.
- Physical Activity. Everyone should get regular physical activity .
- Drug Treatment. If lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available, including statins. The medicines work in different ways and can have different side effects. Talk to your health care provider about which one is right for you. While you are taking medicines to lower your cholesterol, you still should continue with the lifestyle changes.
Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Then the machine returns the rest of the blood back to the person.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute