The heart is one of the most vital organs in the human body. If you wish to have a healthy heart, then along with regular monitoring of blood pressure and cholesterol levels, you also need to keep track of triglycerides. People with high triglyceride levels have an increased risk of cardiac ailments. So, it is crucial to monitor this vital parameter closely. Consider this write-up if you are concerned about the influence of triglycerides in the functioning of your heart .
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a kind of lipid (fat) found in our blood. When you eat, your body converts the calories it does not have the need to use right away into triglycerides. These triglycerides are stored in the fat cells. Later, the hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals.
People may develop hypertriglyceridemia (having high triglyceride levels) if they consume more calories than they can burn.
What are the different levels of triglycerides?
You can track the level of triglycerides in the blood by undergoing a blood test. Consider the following chart to determine your present triglyceride level.
- Normal- Triglycerides remain in the normal range if the value is below 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or lower than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
- Borderline high- Triglycerides ranging between 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
- High- Triglycerides ranging between 200 to 499 mg/dL (2.3 to 5.6 mmol)
- Very high- Triglycerides above 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above)
Why is keeping a check on the triglyceride level important?
Since the level of triglycerides in the blood circulation can result in heart ailments and complications in other organs, it is crucial to keep a watch . Have a look at the various ways by which high triglycerides affect other organs.
When the triglyceride level exceeds the normal range, they start accumulating in arteries. If this goes on for a prolonged duration, then artery walls start hardening and thickening- a condition is known as arteriosclerosis. It increases the risk of heart diseases, including stroke and heart attack.
If triglycerides reach a very high level (above 500 mg/dL), it leads to inflammation in the pancreas. Patients suffer from pancreatitis- a condition where the digestive enzymes get activated within the pancreas and start destroying internal cells. Patients experience severe abdominal pain, which radiates to the back, nausea, vomiting, fever, and tenderness in the abdomen in this medical issue.
Patients having high triglycerides have an increased risk of developing fatty liver disease. Unhealthy lifestyles are responsible for accumulating lipids in all organs of the body, including the liver. Though fatty liver does not produce any symptoms in the early stages, it can lead to severe complications like cirrhosis and permanent liver damage.
- Type 2 diabetes
Patients with high triglycerides also have an increased risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus. Here the body becomes resistant to insulin (a hormone regulating the glucose level in blood circulation). Over time the pancreas fails to produce enough quantity of insulin, and the cells cannot utilize the glucose.
When to see a doctor in high triglycerides?
As already discussed, high triglycerides can lead to a range of complications in the vital organs of the body. IBook an appointment with a doctor for the commencement of the immediate treatment plan.
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What are the causes of a high triglyceride level?
Several factors can lead to high triglycerides level in your body. They include:
- Consumption of excess sugar-laden food regularly
- Alcoholism (excess consumption of alcoholic drinks)
- Cigarette smoking
- Underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Liver and kidney ailments
- Rare genetic diseases
- Side effects of specific medications like diuretics, steroids, retinoids, beta-blockers, estrogen and progestin, immunosuppressants, and HIV drugs
How can you reduce triglycerides through healthy lifestyle choices?
It is possible to reduce the triglycerides level and bring it back to the normal range by following a healthy lifestyle. Incorporate the following changes to lead a fit and active life.
- Exercise regularly
Dedicate at least 30 minutes for physical activity five days a week. It will help you reduce the triglycerides and boost the formation of “good” cholesterol. You do not require visiting the gym every day. Incorporate physical activities in daily tasks like walking to local markets and stores, climbing stairs instead of using an elevator, and jogging or playing sport .
- Limit sugar and refined carbohydrates consumption
Stay away from food items containing a high dose of sugar and refined carbohydrates.. You can find them in cakes, pastries, cookies, and donuts.
- Shade extra weight
Try to maintain the body weight within the standard range based on your height and weight, especially if you get detected with mild to moderate hypertriglyceridemia. You can achieve this by cutting down excess calories and exercising regularly. It is a fact that extra calories get stored as triglycerides, so a reduction in food items will automatically decrease the triglyceride level.
- Eat selectively
Include healthy fats in your diet. Use olive or canola oil as a cooking medium and try out fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids (mackerel, sardines, salmon, and tuna) instead of red meat. Completely avoid food prepared with hydrogenated oils or trans fats (present in processed food and margarine).
- Limit alcohol consumption
Restrict alcohol consumption to one drink a day if at all. Studies prove that excess alcohol has a potent effect on triglycerides as it contains a high dose of sugar and calories.
What are the treatments for high triglycerides?
If your triglycerides do not return to the standard range even after following a healthy lifestyle, book a follow-up consultation with your doctor. They might prescribe the following treatments.
It is a cholesterol-lowering medicine, which may be prescribed if you also have high levels of cholesterol and diabetes . Atorvastatin calcium and rosuvastatin calcium are two prevalent groups of statins prescribed by doctors.
Physicians may also advise the fenofibrate and gemfibrozil groups of medications to reduce triglycerides. However, they may have some adverse effects on kidney and liver .
- Fish oil supplements
Since omega-3 fatty acids present in fish are beneficial for reducing triglycerides, you can even try out fish oil preparations after consultation with your doctor. However, there are chances of interference with blood clotting if you intake these supplements in high doses.
Niacin or nicotinic acid is also effective against triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
If you are looking for the latest treatment practices for lowering triglycerides-
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Remember, an active lifestyle, coupled with the consumption of healthy nutritious food, can help in maintaining this compound within the standard range. However, if things are still beyond control, do not forget to consult a doctor.
Frequently asked questions
- How can you detect the triglycerides level in blood circulation?
Doctors recommend checking the triglycerides as part of the lipid profile at regular intervals. It helps in determining the level of good and bad cholesterols along with triglycerides. However, do not forget to undergo this diagnostic test in the fasting condition for the best results.
- What is the difference between triglycerides and cholesterol?
Both triglycerides and cholesterol are lipid compounds circulating in blood vessels. However, triglycerides reserve the excess calories in the body and release energy in between meals. Whereas cholesterol helps in the synthesis of hormones and new cells.
- What is the best food for people with high triglycerides?
Individuals with high triglycerides can add a generous dose of high fiber fruits and vegetables and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Switch to whole grains, oats, pears, carrots, beans, almonds, walnuts, and Brussels sprouts in breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
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