What Should My Cholesterol Level Be If I Have Triglycerides
The amount of cholesterol in the blood is measured in milligrams per deciliter . Here are the recommended cholesterol values for your age and gender: Triglycerides are not cholesterol, however they are a component of a lipoprotein panel . Triglyceride levels should be less than 150 mg/dL. If you have triglycerides that are higher than this, then you should discuss with your doctor what causes these high levels with respect to your treatment plan.
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.
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.
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.
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A Sign Of Metabolic Syndrome
People with metabolic syndrome are several times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke. The risk of eventually developing diabetes is even greater.
A syndrome is, by definition, a group of signs and symptoms that occur together because of an underlying condition. For metabolic syndrome, that group includes abdominal obesity , high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low HDL cholesterol and, yes, levels.
So as doctors have started to take metabolic syndrome more seriously, they’ve also started to pay more attention to triglyceride levels as one of its telltale signs.
Triglycerides go it alone
HDL and triglycerides are metabolically connected and are often inversely related: As triglycerides go up, HDL goes down and vice versa. But that isn’t always so. People can have “isolated” high triglycerides without low HDL levels, and research is now showing that high triglycerides are an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, no matter what the HDL is.
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Is There Anything Else I Should Know
If you are diabetic and your blood sugar is out of control, triglycerides may be very high.
Triglycerides change dramatically in response to meals, increasing as much as 5 to 10 times higher than fasting levels just a few hours after eating. Even fasting levels vary considerably day to day. Therefore, modest changes in fasting triglycerides measured on different days are not considered to be abnormal.
Certain drugs such as corticosteroids, protease inhibitors for HIV, beta blockers, and estrogens can increase blood triglyceride levels.
There is increasing interest in measuring triglycerides in people who have not fasted. The reason is that a non-fasting sample may be more representative of the âusualâ circulating level of triglyceride since most of the day blood lipid levels reflect post-meal levels rather than fasting levels. However, it is not yet certain how to interpret non-fasting levels for evaluating risk so, at present, there is no change in the current recommendations for fasting prior to tests for lipid levels.
Cholesterol And Triglyceride Screening
Some health organizations recommend that everyone older than age 20 be checked for high cholesterol.
Some health organizations recommend that everyone age 20 and older be checked for high cholesterol.footnote 1 The Canadian Cardiovascular Society recommends cholesterol tests based on age and risk factors for heart disease. footnote 2
Talk to your doctor about when you should get a cholesterol test.
For more information, see When to Have a Cholesterol Test.
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What Can Happen To Me If I Have High Triglycerides
A high triglyceride level is one of the signs of metabolic syndrome. This is a collection of health conditions that increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
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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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.
High Triglycerides: Getting Help
When it comes to cholesterol and triglycerides, perhaps the most important thing is to get regular screenings.
See your doctor and get checked out. If your triglycerides are high, you and your doctor can decide on a treatment plan — and you can make a few simple but effective changes to your lifestyle.
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What Is This Test
This group of tests measures the amount of cholesterol and other fats in your blood.
Cholesterol and triglycerides are lipids, or fats. These fats are important for cell health, but they can be harmful when they build up in the blood. Sometimes they can lead to clogged, inflamed arteries, a condition call atherosclerosis. This may keep your heart from working normally if the arteries of your heart muscle are affected.
This panel of tests helps predict your risk for heart disease and stroke.
A lipid panel measures these fats:
- Total cholesterol
- High total cholesterol
If you are already being treated for heart disease, you may have this test to see whether treatment is working.
How Are Triglycerides Connected To Cholesterol
Cholesterol is another type of fatty substance. It has many uses in your body, including producing hormones, building cells and helping you digest food.
There are good and bad types of cholesterol. ‘Bad’ cholesterol is known as low-density lipoprotein or LDL. It can stick to the sides of your blood vessels and block them. ‘Good’ cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL. It transports the bad cholesterol away from your blood vessels to your liver, which gets rid of it.
If you have a high level of triglycerides together with a high LDL level or a low HDL level, you have a higher risk of fat building up and blocking your blood vessels. This increases your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.
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What Other Tests Might I Have Along With This Test
Your healthcare provider may also order other tests to look at how well your heart is working. These tests may include:
- Electrocardiogram, or ECG, which tests your heart’s electrical impulses to see if it is beating normally
- Stress test, in which you may have to exercise while being monitored by ECG
- Echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to make pictures of your heart
- Cardiac catheterization. For this test, a healthcare provider puts a tube into your blood vessels and injects dye. X-rays are then done to look for clogs in the arteries of the heart
Your provider may also order tests for high blood pressure or blood sugar, or glucose.
Should I Worry If My Triglycerides Are High
High levels of triglycerides increase your risk of heart disease and pancreatitis. Eating or drinking too many calories can lead to high triglyceride levels. The good news is that you can take steps to lower triglyceride numbers. Your healthcare provider can offer suggestions for heart-healthy lifestyle changes.
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Too Much Of A Good Thing
No doubt: Fruit is good for you, especially if youâre having a piece of fruit instead of a rich dessert. But when you have high triglycerides, you may need to limit yourself to 2-3 pieces of fruit a day. That way, you wonât get too much of the natural sugars that are in fruit. If youâre having dried fruit, remember that the serving size is much smaller: 4 tablespoons of raisins , for example.
Healthy Eating Tips To Lower Cholesterol
As well as sticking to a varied and healthy diet, try these tips to help you manage your cholesterol:
- Limit takeaway foods to once a week .
- Limit salty, fatty and sugary snack foods to once a week .
- Eat plenty of vegetables aim for 5 serves of vegetables every day. .
- Choose wholegrain breads, cereal, pasta, rice and noodles.
- Snack on plain, unsalted nuts and fresh fruit .
- Include legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, split peas), beans into at least two meals a week. Check food labels and choose the lowest sodium products.
- Use spreads and margarines made from healthy unsaturated fats instead of those made with saturated fat .
- Use healthy oils for cooking some include canola, sunflower, soybean, olive , sesame and peanut oils.
- Use salad dressings and mayonnaise made from oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean, olive , sesame and peanut oils.
- Include 2 or 3 serves of plant-sterol-enriched foods every day .
- Have 2 to 3 portions of oily fish every week. Fish may be fresh, frozen or canned.
- Include up to 7 eggs every week.
- Select lean meat and limit unprocessed red meat to less than 350g per week.
- Choose reduced fat, no added sugar milk, yoghurt, or calcium-added non-dairy food and drinks.
- Limit or avoid processed meats including sausages and deli meats .
If you are having trouble with your cholesterol levels, a dietitian can help you to eat healthily for your specific needs.
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Treatment And Next Steps
After confirming that you have elevated blood triglycerides, your doctor may suggest various options depending on the level of triglycerides in your blood and other risk factors you might have. Your doctor will likely test for other conditions that could be secondary causes of high triglyceride levels. In many cases, lifestyle and diet changes may be enough to manage the condition.
If your triglyceride levels are very high or your doctor is concerned about your risk for heart disease or other complications, they may prescribe medications such as statins. Statins can help lower blood lipid levels. Other medications called fibrates, such as gemfibrozil and fenofibrate , also have an important role in the treatment of high triglycerides.
Who Is At Risk
The most common causes of hypertriglyceridemia are obesity, untreated or poorly controlled diabetes, and excessive consumption of alcohol. Others risk factors include hypothyroidism, kidney disease and, less frequently, genetics. As with many diseases, if you’re a smoker, you should quit smoking right now. It won’t cause high triglycerides, but as a vasoconstrictor, smoking can quickly make a bad situation worse.
Certain medications may also elevate triglycerides. Among these are Tamoxifen, birth control pills, steroids, beta blockers, diuretics, and estrogen.
Cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels are determined with a simple blood test
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Increase Your Intake Of Unsaturated Fats
Studies show that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can reduce blood triglyceride levels, especially when theyre replacing carbs in your diet .
Monounsaturated fats are found in foods like olive oil, nuts, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats are present in vegetable oils and fatty fish, as well as nuts and seeds such as walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
A 2019 review of 27 studies reported that while olive oil consumption does decrease triglycerides levels, it does so significantly less than other types of plant oil .
One older study analyzed the diets of 452 adults in a specific population of Indigenous people in Alaska over the previous 24 hours.
It found that saturated fat intake was associated with increased blood triglycerides, while polyunsaturated fat intake was associated with lower triglyceride levels .
To maximize the triglyceride-lowering benefits of unsaturated fats, pick a heart-healthy fat like olive oil and use it to replace other types of fat in your diet, such as trans fats or highly processed vegetable oils .
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can decrease blood triglyceride levels, especially when theyre consumed in place of other fats.
How Is High Cholesterol Diagnosed
Lipoprotein panel is a type of blood test that can measure cholesterol levels. Before the test, the patient may need to fast for 9-12 hours. The test gives information about different types of cholesterol:
- Total cholesterol: Shows the total amount of cholesterol in the blood. It includes both low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
- LDL cholesterol: Transports cholesterol particles throughout the body. LDL cholesterol is often called the bad cholesterol because it builds up in the walls of the arteries, making them hard and narrow.
- HDL cholesterol: Picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.
- Non-HDL: Number is total cholesterol minus HDL. Non-HDL includes LDL and other types of cholesterol such as very lowdensity lipoprotein .
- Triglycerides: Another form of fat in the blood that can increase your risk for heart diseases, especially in women, is triglycerides.
Too much of the bad kind, or not enough of the good kind, increases the risk that cholesterol will slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain.
In most cases, high triglycerides are managed by making lifestyle changes. You may be advised to:
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What Abnormal Results Mean
High triglyceride levels may be due to:
- Other medicines, such as female hormones
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Disorder passed down through families in which there are high amounts of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood
Overall, the treatment of elevated triglyceride levels focuses on increased exercise and changes in the diet. Drugs to lower triglyceride levels may be used to prevent pancreatitis for levels above 500 mg/dL.
Low triglyceride levels may be due to:
Pregnancy can affect test results.
How Do I Prepare For The Test
You may need to not eat or drink anything but water for 12 to 14 hours before this test. In addition, be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don’t need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.
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Is Any Test Preparation Needed To Ensure The Quality Of The Sample
Current standards recommend that testing be done when you are fasting. For 9 to 12 hours before the test, only water is permitted. Your health care practitioner may decide that you may be tested without fasting. Follow any instructions you are given and tell the person drawing your blood whether or not you have fasted. In addition, alcohol should not be consumed for 24 hours just before the test.