In order to get an overall picture of your health many doctors will order a round of blood tests.  Your blood can show what is going on under the surface and help doctors treat or get ahead of any health issues that are revealed.  When your doctor checks your cholesterol levels he will also want to check your triglyceride level for a more complete picture of your health.

 

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a chemical form of fat particles that are in your blood and are used for energy.  Extra calories, alcohol and sugar are converted to triglycerides and then stored in fat cells.  When energy is needed; hormones release triglycerides from the fat cells back into the blood stream for the energy your body needs.

 

Overnight Fasting Triglyceride Values

  • Normal           less than 150 mg/dl
  • Borderline     150-199 mg/dl
  • High                200-499 mg/dl
  • Very High      500 mg/dl or more

 

High Triglyceride Levels Increase Your Risk For:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Heart Attack
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Metabolic Syndrome

 

What causes high triglyceride levels?

  • Obesity
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Uncontrolled Diabetes
  • Menopause
  • Low Thyroid Hormone Levels
  • Kidney Disease
  • High Sugar Diet
  • Genetics
  • High Alcohol Consumption
  • Some medications:  Tamoxifen, steroids, beta-blockers, diuretics, estrogen, and birth control pills

 

How can I lower my triglycerides?

There are some lifestyle changes you can make that will help lower your triglycerides.  These include:

  • Do not smoke.
  • Avoid sugary foods
  • Reduce or avoid alcohol
  • Lose Weight – Stay within a healthy weight range.  Use Health Surgeon’s Ideal Body Weight Calculator to discover a health weight range for you.
  • Control Blood Pressure if necessary
  • Avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol (processed foods)
  • Exercise regularly.  The American heart Association recommends 20 minutes of physical activity 5 or more days per week.

 

If lifestyle modifications are not working your doctor may prescribe prescription medication.  This medication could include fibrates, medication, nicotinic acids, or a cholesterol lowering statin in combination with a fibrate.  All medication comes with the risk of some side effects.  Please thoroughly discuss your options with your doctor.

 

Blood tests can give your doctor a behind the scenes look at what is happening in your body.  Your blood test results can help you and your doctor be proactive when it comes to taking care of your health.  Stopping a health issue early on is generally cheaper and easier.

 

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