Triglycerides: Why do they matter?
Triglycerides are an important measure of heart health. Here's why triglycerides matter — and what to do if your triglycerides are too high.
By Mayo Clinic staff
If you've been keeping an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, there's something else you might need to monitor: your triglycerides. Having a high level of triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid) in your blood, can increase your risk of heart disease. However, the same lifestyle choices that promote overall health can help lower your triglycerides, too.
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of lipid found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn't need to use right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly "easy" calories like carbohydrates and fats, you may have high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia).
What's considered normal?
A simple blood test can reveal whether your triglycerides fall into a healthy range.
Normal — Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 1.7 millimoles per L (mmol/L)
Borderline high — 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
High — 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L)
Very high — 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above)
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that a triglyceride level of 100 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) or lower is considered "optimal." The AHA says this optimal level would improve your heart health. However, the AHA doesn't recommend drug treatment to reach this level. Instead, for those trying to lower their triglycerides to this level, lifestyle changes such as diet, weight loss and physical activity are encouraged. That's because triglycerides usually respond well to dietary and lifestyle changes.
What's the difference between triglycerides and cholesterol?
Triglycerides and cholesterol are separate types of lipids that circulate in your blood. Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy, and cholesterol is used to build cells and certain hormones. Because triglycerides and cholesterol can't dissolve in blood, they circulate throughout your body with the help of proteins that transport the lipids (lipoproteins).
Triglycerides: Why do they matter?
Why do high triglycerides matter?
Although it's unclear how, high triglycerides may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (atherosclerosis) — which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
High triglycerides are often a sign of other conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke as well, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Sometimes high triglycerides are a sign of poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), liver or kidney disease, or rare genetic conditions that affect how your body converts fat to energy. High triglycerides could also be a side effect of taking medications such as beta blockers, birth control pills, diuretics, steroids or the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.
There is a lot more information on the Mayo clinic site here is the link if you are interested http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/triglyceride...
On that same site I clicked on Cholesterole: Top 5 foods to lower your numbers or you can go to that page here http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cholesterol/...
I found this information very helpful for me. I am bookmarking the Top 5 foods to keep for referencing.
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