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Triglycerides: Normal Values and Treatment for Increased Levels

What are triglycerides?

They are a type of fat or lipid found in our blood and the most common type of fat in our body. Triglycerides are formed when our body has more calories than it needs. They are stored in the fat cells and are used when your body needs energy in between meals.

If you frequently consume high-carbohydrate foods or regularly consume more calories than you burn, you may have high triglycerides in your blood. Triglycerides are commonly found in butter, oils, and fats that we regularly consume in our meals. A simple blood test known as a lipid panel or lipid profile will tell you the amount of triglycerides in your bloodstream. The following table will tell you the normal and high levels of triglycerides in your body.

Triglyceride Levels

NormalBelow 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)Below 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
Borderline High150-1901.8-2.2
High200-4992.3-5.6
Very High500 or above5.7 or above

Note: You are required to fast overnight before the test for accurate results.

Why are high levels of triglycerides harmful?

High triglycerides are harmful to your body because they may contribute to hardening or thickening of arteries, posing risk for heart attack and stroke. The higher numbers often accompany other health problems like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, low levels of good cholesterol, and high levels of bad cholesterol.

Increased levels of triglycerides are also associated with diseases of liver and pancreas.

What are the symptoms of high triglycerides?

High levels of triglycerides often do not cause any symptoms. In rare cases, where the increased levels are due to a genetic condition, you may experience fatty deposits under your skin.

When to see a doctor?

If your triglyceride levels are very high or you are experiencing obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and others, you must immediately visit a doctor who might recommend further tests.

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What causes high triglycerides?

Several lifestyle factors lead to higher levels of triglycerides in the blood. They are more of risk factors than causes of triglycerides:

1.       Regular high-calorie diet

2.       Obesity

3.       Excessive alcohol consumption

4.       Genetic disorders

5.       Thyroid diseases

6.       Cigarette smoking

7.       Liver or kidney diseases

8.       Poorly controlled type 2 diabetes

9.       Certain medications

What are the risk factors for triglycerides?

Some factors are known to increase the risk of triglycerides. They are:

  • High levels of blood sugar and diabetes
  • Excessive weight
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • High blood pressure

What are the treatments for triglycerides?

Triglycerides can be lowered with lifestyle changes such as diet, regular exercising, and others. Treatment with medication comes into the picture when lifestyle changes fail to control the triglyceride levels. Healthy lifestyle choices are known to have a positive effect on triglycerides.

Regular exercise

According to medical professionals, you should exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes daily. It is also good to include healthy habits like climbing the stairs instead of using a lift, walking to nearby shops, taking frequent breaks at work, etc. Regular exercise increases good cholesterol in the body and reduces triglycerides.

Weight loss

Obesity is one of the major reasons for increased levels of triglycerides. When you lose weight, calories are burnt and the triglyceride levels automatically come down.

Healthy diet

A healthy diet is the key to lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. You have to cut down on sugar, refined carbohydrates, and high-calorie food items. Foods to consume include foods high in fiber, proteins, healthy fats, and low-calorie food.

Avoid alcohol consumption

Alcohol has been proven to have a high number of calories and sugar and can cause an increase in triglycerides. Medical professionals recommend avoiding alcohol altogether or have limited consumption. The same advice goes for cigarettes.

Controlling high triglycerides with medicines

In some cases where lifestyle changes are not enough to reduce high levels of triglycerides, doctors prescribe medications to bring down the levels. Some of the common medications include:

  • Fibrates
  • Fish Oil
  • Niacin
  • Statins
  • PCSK9 Inhibitors

If you are prescribed medications, you have to consume them as prescribed. Do not forget to eat healthy and exercise, along with the medication, because they are equally important and can effectively bring down high triglycerides.

What are the complications of high levels of triglycerides?

High levels of triglycerides can lead to several serious complications such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Very high triglycerides can also increase the risk of acute pancreatitis. In this condition, the pancreas gets inflamed and causes serious pain in the abdomen.

What are the preventive measures for triglycerides?

Complications and health problems associated with high-triglycerides can be avoided/prevented by simple lifestyle changes. Your doctor will recommend you to get active while avoiding high-calorie foods on a daily basis. You may also be advised to stay away from cigarettes and alcohol. In cases where high levels cannot be brought down with food and exercise, your doctor may prescribe medicines. In most cases, a healthy lifestyle is enough to keep triglyceride numbers at normal levels.

Conclusion

Triglycerides are important for our body, but they can lead to a plethora of health problems beyond a certain number. If you think, you might have high levels of triglycerides, get in touch with your health care provider and ask for a cholesterol test.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Are triglycerides and cholesterol the same?

Triglycerides and cholesterol are two different types of fat that circulate in our blood. While triglycerides store excess calories and provide energy to our body, cholesterol is responsible for building individual cells and hormones. Both are harmful to us beyond the normal range.

2. What does it mean if your triglycerides are high?

High triglycerides in blood increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, metabolic syndrome, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels.

3. Is coffee bad for triglycerides numbers?

Coffee, especially unfiltered coffee, is believed to contribute to an increase in the level of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c,) and triglycerides in the body.

4. Which drink is good for triglycerides?

Sweet drinks and beverages have been proven to increase the triglyceride levels in the body. According to medical practitioners, water is the best drink if you would like to maintain triglycerides in healthy levels. Some studies have found that green tea is also useful for lowering LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

5. How can I lower my triglycerides quickly?

You cannot lower your triglycerides quickly. It can be achieved only with consistent exercising, avoiding fatty, calorie-rich food, consuming more fiber, following a healthy diet and avoiding coffee.

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