Triglycerides And Cardiac Risk
Many clinical studies have shown that having a high triglyceride blood level a condition called hypertriglyceridemia is also associated with a substantially elevated cardiovascular risk. While this association is generally accepted by experts, it is not yet agreed that elevated triglyceride levels are a direct cause of atherosclerosis, as LDL cholesterol is thought to be. There is no generally accepted triglyceride hypothesis.
Still, there is no question that hypertriglyceridemia is strongly associated with elevated cardiovascular risk. Furthermore, high triglyceride levels are a prominent feature of several other conditions known to increase cardiac risk. These include obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, hypothyroidism and especially metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
This latter relationship is particularly important. The insulin resistance that characterizes metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes produces an overall metabolic profile that tremendously increases cardiac risk. This unfavorable metabolic profile includes, in addition to hypertriglyceridemia, elevated CRP levels, high LDL cholesterol levels, and low HDL cholesterol levels. People with insulin resistance also tend to have hypertension and obesity. Their overall risk of heart disease and stroke is very high.
How Is Cholesterol Measured
Most people with high cholesterol feel perfectly well and often have no symptoms.
Visit your GP to find out your cholesterol level and to find out what you need to do if your levels of bad cholesterol are high.
For people aged 45 years and over, you can have your cholesterol checked as part of a Heart Health Check with your GP.
If you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, you should have your cholesterol checked from age 18 years.
What Kind Of Medications Treat High Triglycerides
If your triglyceride levels are very high, you may need medication.
Niacin supplements also known as vitamin B3 can help reduce blood triglyceride levels. You can get niacin naturally from meats, avocados, and peanuts among many other foods. Supplements work well, too, if youre worried you may not be getting enough through your diet alone.
For those who dont like to eat fish, packaged omega-3 fatty acids, and even cod liver oil, can come in a capsule and help you get some of the same benefits. Vascepa is an FDA-approved prescription-strength omega-3 fatty acid that you can take if you are 45 or older and have diabetes or cardiovascular disease. It has been shown to reduce triglyceride levels and the risk of heart attack or stroke when exercise, diet, and other medications arent enough.
One of the main types of medication prescribed to treat high triglycerides are called fibrates, including fenofibrate. These medications slow down production of triglycerides and help remove triglycerides from the bloodstream.
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Becoming More Physically Active
A sedentary lifestyle lowers HDL cholesterol. Less HDL means theres less good cholesterol to remove bad cholesterol from your arteries.
Physical activity is important. At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week is enough to lower both cholesterol and high blood pressure. And you have lots of options: brisk walking, swimming, bicycling or even yard work can fit the bill.
How Quickly Can I Lower My Cholesterol
Your cholesterol levels may lower as quickly as a few weeks to a few months, depending on your treatment plan.
If your levels are very high, your healthcare provider may recommend taking medications at the start of your treatment plan. This may help lower your cholesterol levels more quickly. The sooner you can lower your bad cholesterol levels, the sooner you can lower your risk for plaques to form.
You can also lower your cholesterol through lifestyle and diet changes alone, but it may take three to six months to see results. Talk with your healthcare provider to figure out the best treatment plan for you.
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Checking Your Blood Cholesterol Level
A cholesterol screening is an overall look at the fats in your blood. Screenings help identify your risk for heart disease. It is important to have what is called a full lipid profile to show the actual levels of each type of fat in your blood: LDL, HDL, triglycerides, and others. Talk with your healthcare provider about when to have this test.
Focus On Monounsaturated Fats
As opposed to saturated fats, unsaturated fats have at least one double chemical bond that changes the way your body uses them. Monounsaturated fats have only one double bond.
Some recommend a low fat diet for weight loss, but research is mixed on its effectiveness in controlling blood cholesterol.
One research report acknowledged that lower fat intake is an effective way to reduce blood cholesterol levels. However, researchers were concerned over potential negative effects of low fat diets, such as lowering HDL and increasing triglycerides .
In contrast, research has shown that a diet high in monounsaturated fats, such as the Mediterranean diet, helps reduce levels of harmful LDL and increase levels of healthy HDL .
Monounsaturated fats may also reduce the oxidation of cholesterol, according to research. Oxidized cholesterol can react with free radicals and contribute to clogged arteries. This can lead to atherosclerosis or heart disease .
Overall, monounsaturated fats are healthy because they decrease harmful LDL cholesterol, increase good HDL cholesterol and reduce harmful oxidation (
Monounsaturated fats like those in olive oil, canola oil, tree nuts, and avocados reduce LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol, and reduce the oxidation that contributes to clogged arteries.
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How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally In 28 Simple Steps
There are tons of natural remedies out there for how to lower cholesterol levels, often promising quick results with next to no effort required on your part. But while its true that there are tons of options to keep cholesterol levels in check, it can actually be as simple as swapping out a few foods in your diet for healthier options, switching up your workout routine or adding a supplement or two into the mix.
Ready to get started? Lets take a look at 28 simple methods for how to lower cholesterol and how it can impact your health.
Establish A Regular Meal Pattern
Insulin resistance is another factor that can contribute to high blood triglycerides.
After you eat a meal, the cells in your pancreas send a signal to release insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin is then responsible for transporting sugar to your cells to be used for energy.
If you have too much insulin in your blood, your body can become resistant to it, making it difficult for your body to use insulin effectively. This can lead to a buildup of both sugar and triglycerides in the blood.
Fortunately, setting a regular eating pattern can help prevent insulin resistance and high triglycerides. For instance, research shows that not eating breakfast can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity .
An American Heart Association statement suggested that irregular eating patterns seemed less likely to achieve healthy cardiometabolic levels. They recommended intentional eating at regular times .
However, the evidence is mixed when it comes to meal frequency.
A 2013 study demonstrated that eating three meals per day significantly decreased triglycerides compared with eating six meals per day (
Regardless of how many meals youre eating daily, eating regular meals can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood triglyceride levels.
While studies are mixed on how meal frequency affects blood triglyceride levels, research suggests that sticking to a regular meal pattern can decrease many heart disease risk factors and prevent insulin resistance.
How To Reduce Triglycerides: Exercise Exercise Exercise
If youre carrying around a little extra weight, get moving! To get in shape and lower your triglycerides at the same time, start a regular workout routine.
The goal should be 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week. When you exercise, be sure to break a sweat and get your heart pumping. With this routine you can cut your triglycerides by 20% to 30%.
New to exercise? Wondering where to start?
- Sign up for a dance class.
- Find time each day for a brisk walk.
- Lift light-weight dumbbells
Eat Fatty Fish Twice Weekly
Fatty fish is well known for its benefits on heart health and ability to lower blood triglycerides.
This is mostly due to its content of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that is considered essential, meaning you need to get it through your diet.
Both the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and American Heart Association recommend eating two servings of fatty fish per week to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke .
Whats more, one study showed that eating salmon twice a week significantly decreased blood triglyceride concentration .
Salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, and mackerel are a few types of fish that are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Eating two servings per week may lower triglyceride levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Possible New Treatment For High Triglycerides
In the report in The New England Journal of Medicine, an international team of researchers describe a new therapy for high triglycerides. It involves a weekly injection of antisense oligonucleotides , pieces of DNA that short-circuit the livers production of triglycerides. The new report shows that ASOs can reduce triglyceride levels by as much as 70%.
Keep in mind that this was a phase 2 trial, which is designed to test whether a drug does what it is supposed to do . Larger, longer-term studies will be needed to see whether ASOs actually reduce the risk of heart disease, and what sorts of side effects they cause.
Many experimental medications that sparkle in early testing never become FDA-approved drugs. We wont know for several years whether ASOs will become available for individuals with high triglycerides.
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Know The Dangers Of Trans Fats
Trans fats are dangerous for your heart, because they raise low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The chief culprit youll see on product labels is partially hydrogenated oil. Trans fats are the result of adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to increase shelf life. This may make some baked and fried foods taste better, but trans fats are very unhealthy, particularly for people with high triglycerides. In fact, trans fats should make up less than 1 percent of your total calories, according to the World Health Organization. Check your food labels: If a food contains trans fats or hydrogenated oils, leave it on the shelf.
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Weight Loss Can Lower Triglycerides And Ldl Cholesterol
It doesn’t take dramatic weight loss to lower LDL and triglyceride levels. Just 5 to 10 pounds can make a difference, says Jerry Blaine, M.D., who specialized in cholesterol management, lipid disorders, hypertension, and preventive medicine, including at the Lipid Clinic at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, before retiring in 2013.
The same applies to triglycerides. The more calories you eat and don’t burn off, the more you store, which can lead to higher-than-normal triglyceride levels.
Additionally, there are other trim-down steps you can take to lower your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides:
— Set a goal to lose 5-10 percent of your total body weight. For example, a 200-pound adult would aim to lose 10-20 pounds. Once the weight is off, keep up your healthy lifestyle to maintain your new weight.
— Cut 200-500 calories a day from the number of calories it takes to maintain your weight. Reducing caloric intake will lower both LDL and triglycerides.
Ask Your Doctor About Natural Supplements
Several natural supplements could have the potential to lower blood triglycerides. Always speak with your doctor before starting any supplements, as they can interact with other medications.
Note especially that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements in the same way as it regulates pharmaceuticals, and supplement quality can vary widely.
Below are a few of the main supplements that have been studied:
- Fish oil. Well known for its potent effects on heart health, fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease triglycerides and several other risk factors for heart disease (
Several supplements have been studied for their ability to lower triglyceride levels, including fish oil, fenugreek, garlic extract, guggul, and curcumin.
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Causes Of High Triglycerides
High triglycerides may be caused by the following conditions:
- medication side effects
Research published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology reviewed data on the associations of triglyceride, HDL and LDL cholesterol with coronary artery disease risk factors. Researchers found that among men or women with low HDL cholesterol and high triglyceride levels, smoking, diabetes, sedentariness, hypertension and obesity were much more prevalent than among those at low risk with high HDL cholesterol and low triglyceride levels.
Hypertriglyceridemia is often observed in patients withtype 2 diabetesbecause insulin plays an important role in the regulation of lipid homeostasis. When the body is resistant to insulin, the organs that are sensitive to insulin regulation like the adipose tissue, liver and skeletal muscle are unable to function properly.
Health Conditions Related To Triglycerides And Cholesterol
High blood lipid levels may increase your risk for plaques to develop in your arteries or thicken the walls of your arteries .
Other health conditions related to high triglycerides or cholesterol include:
- High blood sugar levels or diabetes
- Metabolic syndromea cluster of conditions that increase your risk for heart disease
- Genetic conditions
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Thoughtful Talks With My Health Care Professional: My Cholesterol Treatment Plan
Your health care professional can help you reach your health goals, including keeping your cholesterol at healthy levels.
Making decisions with your health care team is the best way to create a treatment plan youll be more likely to stick to. If you dont understand something, ask for further clarification.
Heres a helpful checklist that you and your health care professional can go through to determine your risk and the best treatment options for you.
How Are High Triglycerides Diagnosed
High blood triglycerides are diagnosed with a routine blood test called a lipid panel. A lipid panel measures total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in the blood.
Triglyceride level ranges are:
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
- A little bit high: 150 to 499 mg/dL
- Very high: 500 mg/dL or greater
- Moderately high: 500 to 886 mg/dL
- Very high: Greater than 886 mg/dL
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Knowing Your Risk Factors For High Cholesterol
Certain health conditions, your lifestyle, and your family history can raise your risk for high cholesterol. These are called risk factors.
- Health conditions that increase your risk
- Behaviors that increase your risk
- Familial hypercholesterolemia
You cant control some of these risk factors, such as your age or your family history. But you can take steps to lower your risk for high cholesterol by changing things you can control.
Go to the following link for more detailed information on each of the factors that raise your risk for high cholesterol at cdc.gov/cholesterol/risk_factors.htm
Lets all focus on better understanding the importance of taking a proactive approach to understanding the important role that cholesterol plays in our health and then acting on that knowledge to improve our quality of life by practicing a healthier lifestyle.
Additional information and resources: Check out the following link from the CDC on cholesterol myths and facts at cdc.gov/cholesterol/myths_facts.htm
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Learn Your Triglyceride Range: Go To The Doctor
Its hard to know how much you need to do to reduce triglycerides if you dont know what triglyceride range you fall in. Fortunately, finding out is easy. Heres how triglyceride test numbers stack up:
- Normal Less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline 150-199 mg/dL
- High 200-499 mg/dL
- Very high 500mg/dL and up
Simply having your blood drawn each year can help you keep track of your triglycerides, and it will help you know when they are too high. At the same time, your doctor may also look for related health problems, including
- kidney disease,
- a slow thyroid gland output,
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Taking Supplements To Lower Triglycerides
The data show that diet and exercise are practical approaches for lowering triglycerides. However, for some people, lifestyle changes may not be enough. In that case, it may be worth discussing supplements with your healthcare provider.
Heres a list of possible choices.36
- Niacin: 2,000 to 3,000 mg per day37
- Berberine: 500 mg twice daily38
- Fish oil: Eicosapentaenoic acid 2 to 4 grams per day 39
- Curcumin: 80 to 100 mg daily40
- Fenugreek: 10 grams per day41
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What Causes High Cholesterol
Some causes of high cholesterol include:
- High intake of foods containing unhealthy fats such as fatty meats and deli-style meats, butter, cream, ice cream, coconut oil, palm oil and most deep-fried takeaway foods and commercially baked products .
- Low intake of foods containing healthy fats healthy fats tend to increase the good cholesterol. Foods containing healthy fats include avocado, nuts, seeds, olives, cooking oils made from plants or seeds, and fish.
- Low intake of foods containing fibre foods that are high in dietary fibre, particularly soluble fibre, can reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood. Include fibre-containing foods in your diet by choosing vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds every day.
- Low levels of physical activity and exercise.
- Being overweight or obese and having too much body fat around your middle.
- Smoking can lead to high cholesterol levels.
- Genetics your family history may affect your cholesterol level. In some families, several people might be diagnosed with high cholesterol or heart disease at a relatively young age . This type of pattern can be caused by genetics, including a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolaemia. Its best to speak to your doctor as soon as possible if you think you might be affected.
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