Having high triglycerides can cause heart disease, stroke and heart attack. Unfortunately, many people do not experience symptoms when they have high levels of triglycerides in their body. This means that a person may go for long periods of time without knowing that their triglyceride levels are elevated. Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) that is found in the blood. When a person eats, the body converts any calories that it does not need to use right away into triglycerides and then stored in the fat cells. Hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. It is important to get triglyceride tests to see if the levels of triglycerides in the body are normal. Being educated about the different causes will alert a person if they are at risk for high triglycerides.
A normal triglyceride level is less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). 200 to 499 mg/dL is high, and a very high-level is 500 mg/dL or more. When levels get this high, it is important to make lifestyle changes and seek treatment if it is necessary. Like having high cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels are caused by many different factors. Some of these factors are unavoidable. One factor that may cause high triglyceride levels is age. The older a person gets, the levels of triglycerides steadily increase. Another factor that is unpreventable is if a person has a family history of high triglyceride levels. A person should check their family history and tell their doctor that their risk of high triglycerides is elevated due to family history.
Many other factors can contribute to the cause of high triglycerides. A person who carries excess weight or who is obese has a higher risk of having high triglycerides. There is more of a risk if the waist size measures more than 35 inches. Having high blood pressure also is a risk factor that can cause high levels of triglycerides. Having high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart disease, which in turn means a person may have a higher level of triglycerides in the body. Another cause of high triglycerides is alcohol consumption. Consuming large amounts of alcohol can cause triglyceride levels to rise. It is recommended that men have no more than two drinks per day and women should only have one drink per day. People should also watch out for portion sizes of the drinks that they are having and make sure that they are not large drinks. Level of activity is also another factor that can cause high triglyceride levels. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, can reduce triglyceride levels. Thirty minutes a day in conjunction with a healthy diet can result in a large reduction of triglyceride levels in the body.
There are also certain medications that can raise triglyceride levels. Some of these medications include: steroids, diuretics, beta-blockers, estrogen, birth control pills, and tamoxifen (a breast cancer drug). A person should talk to their doctor about the risk of elevated triglyceride levels when on these medications, and should also get tested regularly to ensure that their levels are normal.
Many different things can cause high triglyceride levels in the body. Knowing what causes them will help people know when their levels may be high, and what factors may put them at more of a risk for elevated levels of triglycerides in the body. Knowing the possible causes could help people avoid any complications that are caused by high triglycerides in the future.
High Triglycerides Treatment Options:
- Changing your diet to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meat
- Limiting sugars and refined foods
- Limiting fats
- Exercising more
- Limiting sodium
- Limiting dairy
- Cutting back on alcohol
There is also triglycerides medication available to help lower triglyceride levels.