High Triglycerides: What You Need to Know
Do you have high triglyceride levels? If you do, you're hardly alone. Overall, more than a third of adults in the U.S. have high triglyceride levels, a type of fat in the blood.
Although it's a common problem, many of us don't know the first thing about high triglycerides. Studies have consistently linked high triglycerides levels with heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke, especially in people with low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol and in those with type 2 diabetes.
The good news is that there's a lot you can do on your own to lower triglycerides and improve health.
First, find out if your triglycerides are high. Then, find out what to do about it.
Know Your Triglyceride Numbers
Here are the levels, based on a fasting blood test.
- Normal: Less than 150mg/dL
- Borderline: 150 to 199 mg/dL
- High: 200 to 499 mg/dL
- Very High: 500 mg/dL or above
Anyone over age 20 needs to get regular tests to track their cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to the American Heart Association.
Why Are High Triglycerides Bad?
Very high levels of triglycerides are associated with liver and pancreas problems.
But studies show conflicting results on the role of high triglycerides and the risk of heart disease. Not all experts agree that triglycerides play a significant role in heart problems.
High triglycerides tend to show up along with other problems, like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, and low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. So it’s hard to know for sure which problems are caused by high triglycerides alone.
For instance, some people have a genetic condition that seems to cause high triglyceride levels. But they don’t have an increased risk of heart disease. Still, there is some evidence that high triglycerides, on their own, increase the risk of disease. Other studies show that high triglycerides may only play a minor role when other heart disease risks are taken into account.
With ongoing studies, scientists hope to find out whether drugs that lower triglycerides also reduce the risks of heart disease.
Overall, it's important to remember that improving diet and lifestyle will lower triglycerides and lower the overall risk of heart and blood vessel problems.