Should My Child Have A Blood Lipid Test
A lipid screening is a test to look at the levels of the fats in the blood. In the past, doctors felt that children and teens were not at risk for high cholesterol levels. But we now know that children and teens are at risk. This is due to things such as:
Being inactive from too much screen time and not enough exercise
High-fat or high-sugar diets
Family history of high cholesterol levels
Children and teens with high cholesterol are at higher risk for heart disease as adults. Keeping blood cholesterol levels in the normal range reduces this risk.
What Are Risk Factors For High Triglycerides
Factors that may raise triglyceride levels include:
- Excessive alcohol use.
- American Academy of Family Physicians. High Cholesterol. Accessed 11/182/2021.
- American Heart Association. Cholesterol. Accessed 11/18/2021.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Getting Your Cholesterol Checked. Accessed 11/18/2021.
- Hormone Health Network. Triglycerides. Accessed 11/18/2021.
- MedlinePlus. Triglycerides Test. Accessed 11/18/2021.
- Merck Manual Consumer Version. Overview of Cholesterol and Lipid Fats. Accessed 11/18/2021.
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. High Blood Triglycerides. Accessed 11/18/2021.
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Understanding Cholesterol: Hdl Ldl And Triglycerides
There are two types of grocery shoppersthose who race in with a list in hand and meticulously grab every item on the list before checking out and leaving, and those who meander up and down every aisle, not sure what they want until they see it on the shelf.
But within those two types, theres another shopper you may have seenthe label-reader. This person is health-conscious and examines the nutrition labels of food items before placing them in the cart.
One of the most important categories to check for on a food label is cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your blood. Your body needs some cholesterol, but too much can build up on the walls of your arteries and can lead to heart disease and stroke. Checking your risk for heart disease and stroke is as simple as getting a lipid panel, which tests your blood cholesterol.
There are four important things checked in a lipid panel:
- Total cholesterol
- Low-density lipoproteins
HDL is known as the good cholesterol because it helps remove cholesterol by carrying it back to the liver where it can be eliminated from the body. Its good to have a high HDL number. LDL is known as the bad cholesterol because having too much LDL may cause a buildup of plaque in your blood vessels. Triglycerides are also a type of fat found in your blood. High triglycerides, low HDL, and/or high LDL numbers can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Generally speaking, normal lab values are:
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Why Is Tg/hdl Important
TG/HDL is important because it is an important predictor of risk for heart disease. It is also a marker of insulin resistance, and insulin resistance is the major cause of prediabetes, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
The Womens Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation study studied 544 women referred for CV disease evaluation . The TG/HDL ranged from 0.3 to 18.4. It was a powerful predictor of all mortality and cardiovascular events.
This chart shows the WISE study range of TG/HDL. Individuals with lower TG/HDL had lower CV disease risk.
Which Medicines Can Lower Triglycerides
For some people, good habits may not be enough. Medication might be needed. The decision for you and your doctor can be complicated because other health conditions are usually involved. Several types of medicine can improve levels. They include:
- High doses of omega-3s are needed to lower triglycerides and should be taken only under a doctor’s care. Epanova, Lovaza, and Vascepa are prescription forms of omega-3s.
Your doctor may also prescribe a class of drugs called âstatinsâ that lower cholesterol. Examples include: atorvastatin , rosuvastatin , and simvastatin .
You may feel side effects from these drugs. Be sure to talk it over with your doctor or pharmacist.
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How Do Triglycerides Circulate In The Blood
Pure cholesterol cannot mix with or dissolve in the blood. Instead, the liver packages cholesterol with triglycerides and proteins called lipoproteins. The lipoproteins move this fatty mixture to areas throughout the body.
Types of these lipoproteins include very low-density lipoproteins , high-density lipoproteins and low-density lipoproteins .
What Is A Good Tg: Hdl Ratio
A lower TG/HDL is better. In the discussion of science, studies, and treatment, there has been a tendency to go with higher ratios to show the largest impact on CV disease risk and death.
Here are the typical cut points for risk :
- In US less than 2 is ideal above 4 is too high
- In Europe less than 0.87 is ideal above 1.74 is too high
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High Total Cholesterol Normal Ldl High Hdl Normal Triglycerides
In this case, the high total cholesterol is less troublesome since it’s largely due to elevated HDL . The fact that HDL is high and LDL is normal also makes for a favorable HDL:LDL ratio. Although, extremely high levels of HDL cholesterol can be due to genetics. Generally, HDL levels shouldn’t exceed 116 mg/dL for men and 135 mg/dL for women.2
How Do Triglycerides Get Into The Blood
When we eat foods containing triglycerides, such as meat, dairy products, cooking oils and fats, they are absorbed by our intestines and packaged into parcels of fats and protein called chylomicrons . These carry the triglycerides in the blood stream to our tissues to be used for energy straight away, or stored for later.
The body also makes its own supply of triglycerides in the liver. This form is carried in a different type of lipoprotein known as VLDL cholesterol.
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What Is Remnant Cholesterol
Weve talked about TG, HDL, and a bit about LDL. Theres another thing we ought to coverremnant cholesterol.
Remnant cholesterol is the most dangerous type of cholesterol particle. Its also called triglyceride-rich lipoproteins , which consists primarily of VLDL and IDL .
Image from the Cholesterol Code by Dave Feldman.
Remnant cholesterol is short-lived in the plasma of a healthy person. RC particles appear only briefly after a meal. They are then metabolized into other lipoproteins by the breakdown of triglycerides inside an RC particle. This breakdown is accomplished by lipoprotein lipase lining the luminal surface of capillaries.
RC is also higher in the serum of those with CV disease risk . It is calculated by subtracting LDL and HDL cholesterol levels from total cholesterol number .
Triglycerides And Cholesterol: The Differences
Although triglycerides and cholesterol share similarities, they are not the same. Here are some fundamental differences.
Triglycerides and cholesterol are produced differently. While the body can produce all the cholesterol it needs to function, this isnt the case with triglycerides, which come from food or excess calories.
They serve different purposes in the body. While the primary function of triglycerides is to give your body energy and store unused calories for later, cholesterol helps your body build cells and make hormones, vitamin D, and bile to help break down the foods you eat.
When levels are too high, they can each harm your heart in different ways. The link between high cholesterol and heart disease is well established, and research on triglycerides is now bringing new insights. A study published in June 2020 in the journal BMJ Open found that in 50 year-old women, high levels of triglycerides but not cholesterol may be a risk factor for developing heart failure later. Growing evidence also ties high triglycerides to heart disease risk, regardless of cholesterol levels. Both blood sugar and high triglycerides can be signs that the body isnt using or storing energy appropriately, Milks says.
Bottom line: Both triglycerides and cholesterol are important, and keeping both in check can help your heart stay at its healthiest.
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My Cholesterol Is Normal But My Triglycerides Are High: Why Is That
So both your HDL and LDL levels are where they should be, but your triglycerides are still high why is that?
Triglycerides become elevated due to excess calories that do not get burned off, and in turned get stored in fat cells. Statins are medications that primarily lower LDL cholesterol, but depending on the medication dose, can lower Triglycerides from 20 to 40 percent, Sai Hanumanthu MD, with the TriHealth Heart Institute explains.
There are steps you can take to lower your triglyceride levels while promoting good cardiovascular health, including:
- Losing 5 to 10 pounds if overweight
- Avoiding alcohol
- Avoiding foods high in saturated fats
- Limiting simple carbs that have high processed sugars .
- Participating in 30 minutes of exercise per day
All these suggestions and routine follow up with a medical professional will lower you triglyceride level, even despite a low total cholesterol, Dr. Hanumanthu says.
What Can Raise Your Triglycerides
Triglycerides can be raised due to what doctors refer to as ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ causes, explained below. Some people have a combination of both.
It is very important that your doctors investigates all these potential causes so that you can start treatment.
Primary causes of raised triglycerides
‘Primary’ refers to inherited conditions which cause raised triglyceride levels.
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Triglycerides And Cholesterol: The Similarities
Here are some things that triglycerides and cholesterol have in common.
On their own, triglycerides and cholesterol are not bad. When they are at healthy levels, they are both part of a well-functioning body. But both triglycerides and cholesterol tend to get a bad rap, because
Too much of either isnt good. When your body has too much LDL, it can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Triglyceride elevations are known to associate with heart and vascular disease risk, although the relationship is not the same as with cholesterol, Milks says.
Both can be checked with a blood test. Triglyceride and cholesterol levels can both be measured easily by your doctor using a blood test called a lipid profile. Your doctor may order the test as part of a routine exam or to monitor a condition, such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, heart disease, or diabetes.
Both are treated in a similar way. In the case of both triglycerides and cholesterol, a healthy lifestyle is key. Triglyceride levels are generally quite responsive to therapeutic lifestyle changes, says Milks. These include a healthy body weight, regular physical activity, a prudent diet, and no more than moderate alcohol consumption. All of these habits can improve cholesterol levels, too.
How Are Triglycerides Transported In The Blood
Put simply, triglycerides are a form of fat and LDL is a form of cholesterol. Both come from your diet and are made in your liver. In normal amounts, both play important roles in keeping your body healthy, but in excess, both can have harmful effects. High blood levels of both triglycerides and LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease. A high-fat or high-sugar diet can raise your blood levels of both triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, as can some medical conditions and medications.
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What You Can Do
Many of the steps you should take to lower triglycerides are the same ones you should take to protect your heart and health overall.
If you’re overweight, shed a few pounds. Get regular aerobic exercise . Limit the saturated fats in meat and dairy products. Watch your alcohol intake, even moderate drinking ramps up triglyceride levels. And diet? High-carb/low-fat eating will increase your triglycerides and lower your HDL.
If you’re taking a statin to lower your LDL, one side benefit may be reduced triglyceride levels. Depending on the dose, statins can lower triglycerides by 20%40%.
The omega-3 fats in fish and capsules are another triglyceride-lowering option. For a very high triglyceride level, your doctor can prescribe a high-dose omega-3 medication.
Image: udra/Getty Images
Does Your Total Cholesterol Number Even Matter
As one of the most ordered lab tests, total cholesterol can provide a high level glance at how your body is handling lipids, or fats. According to the CDC, roughly nine percent of all doctors visits include a cholesterol test.1 So, how should you interpret your total cholesterol value? Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts?
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Understanding The Highs And Lows Of Cholesterol
You know that too much is dangerous. But what is cholesterol, anyway? Where does it come from? And is it all bad?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell in the body. Its either made by the body or absorbed from food. Your body needs cholesterol to make important steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and vitamin D. Its also used to make bile acids in the liver these absorb fat during digestion.
So some cholesterol is necessary but bad cholesterol is something you can do without. Excess bad cholesterol in the bloodstream can deposit into the bodys arteries. These deposits are called plaques and result in atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This is the major cause of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular problems.
Your total cholesterol level is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream, which includes several components:
- LDL cholesterol: LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. This is known as the bad cholesterol, which directly contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries. Very low density lipoprotein, or VLDL cholesterol, is another type, which is a precursor to LDL.
- Total cholesterol is VLDL cholesterol plus LDL cholesterol plus HDL cholesterol.
- HDL cholesterol: HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein. Experts think at optimal levels it might help the body get rid of LDL cholesterol.
And guess what? This buildup can start as early as your 20s.
Triglycerides Are More Dangerous Than Cholesterol They Block The Veins Of The Heart
What are Triglycerides?
According to the Mayo Clinic, triglycerides are a type of fat or fat found in your blood. When you eat, your body immediately converts any calories into triglycerides. Triglycerides get stored in your cells. If you consume more calories than you burn, triglycerides can rise. Especially with high carbohydrate foods, it increases rapidly. In medical language, this problem is called hypertriglyceridemia.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a week or daily. Regular exercise can lower triglycerides and increase good cholesterol. Climb the stairs daily or take a walk during breaks.
Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and foods made with white flour or fructose, can raise triglycerides.
To avoid this problem, you should reduce your weight. Keep in mind that extra calories are converted into triglycerides and stored as fat. Reducing your calories will lower your triglycerides.
eat healthy fat
Use olive oil and canola oil in your food. Instead of red meat, try eating fish with omega-3 fatty acids, such as mackerel or salmon.
Limit how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar and it increases triglycerides rapidly. If you have severe hypertriglyceridemia, avoid drinking alcohol.
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What Is Total Cholesterol
Total cholesterol can be determined in two ways. It can either be directly measured in the blood, or more commonly, it can also be calculated. The calculation takes into account the two main forms of cholesterol HDL and LDL as well as a small fraction of triglycerides. Any one of these three components can skew total cholesterol values. Here’s a brief definition of each:
HDL: High density lipoprotein is a protective form of cholesterol that helps to remove harmful particles from circulation before they can cause damage to blood vessels. This process earned it the nickname “good cholesterol.”
LDL: Low density lipoprotein is a potentially dangerous type of cholesterol that can become oxidized , which can lead to the hardening of arteries. If LDL builds up, it can lead to blockages which can cause serious cardiovascular incidents. LDL is therefore aptly referred to as the “bad cholesterol.”
Triglycerides: A form of stored fat that circulates in the bloodstream usually from excess weight, calories, alcohol, lack of exercise, liver damage, or genetics.
What Are Very High Triglycerides
Just as it sounds, having very high triglycerides means that you have too much of this type of fat in your blood. Your doctor may call this condition severe hypertriglyceridemia.
It is detected through a simple blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. This test measures your:
- Overall cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol
You will likely be asked to get your blood taken after fastingwhen you havent had any food or drink for eight, and sometimes up to 12 hours. This will show your triglyceride level when your body has cleared any cholesterol from meals youve eaten. A triglyceride level done without fasting can also be very revealing because it often shows that your body is not clearing the cholesterol from food.
Your health care provider will likely use your fasting results to guide treatment, but cases can be very different
Like other types of cholesterol, triglycerides are measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood. There are four categories of triglyceride levels according to the American Heart Association. Someone is diagnosed with very high triglycerides when the amount of triglycerides found in the blood is 500 mg/dL or more under 150 mg/dL is considered normal.
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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.