Women are more likely to get high triglycerides if they:
- Take birth control pills that include estrogen
- Are pregnant; pregnancy can temporarily raise triglyceride levels.
- Have been through menopause
- Have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), a hormonal disorder in which women have higher levels of male hormones; PCOS can also raise the likelihood of heart disease and diabetes.
- Take oral estrogens or hormone replacement therapy
- Take prescription drugs such as tamoxifen or, to a lesser degree, raloxifene (Evista) that target estrogen levels; doctors call this class of drugs "SERMs," which stands for "selective estrogen receptor modulators."
There are also causes of high triglycerides that impact both women and men. You're more likely to have high triglycerides if you are overweight, don't exercise, have diabetes, have increased waist circumference, or have a family history of high triglycerides. That's true for men and women alike. Hypothyroidism, lupus, and treatment with corticosteroids can also raise triglyceride levels.
Lowering High Triglycerides
Your lifestyle can make a big difference in your triglyceride levels.
Ask your doctor what lifestyle changes you should make, the best ways to do that, and how long it will take to make a difference in your triglyceride levels.
Getting more exercise, losing extra weight, and upgrading your diet -- such as avoiding processed and sugary foods -- are likely to be on your to-do list.
You should also ask your doctor whether any of your medications (such as birth control pills or hormone replacement) are linked to your high triglycerides. If so, your doctor will probably recommend changing your prescription.
If those changes aren't enough, your doctor may prescribe medications such as niacin, statins, fibrates, and omega-3 fatty acids. Even so, lifestyle changes will be part of the plan to lower your triglycerides for good.