Treatment for Triglycerides

Triglycerides (TG, triacylglycerol TAG, or triacylglyceride) are a type of fat, or lipid, found in the blood. When one eats, the body converts unused calories into triglycerides, which are then stored in fat cells. Later, hormones release them for energy between meals, so if one regularly eats more calories than he or she burns, triglyceride levels are likely to increase. One needs some triglycerides for good health, but high triglycerides can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

High triglyceride causes include a number of factors, some of which are controllable. A high triglyceride count is usually caused by obesity, poorly controlled diabetes, an underactive thyroid, kidney disease, unhealthy diet (eating more calories than are burned), and drinking a lot of alcohol. Certain medications may raise triglycerides, including Tamoxifen, steroids, beta-blockers, diuretics, estrogen, and birth control pills. Each of these causes can increase triglyceride levels, and consequently, any combination raises levels exponentially. A healthy triglyceride level is 150 or under. Borderline high is 150-199. High is 200-499. And very high is 500 and up. Triglycerides are measured using a common test called a lipid panel. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone over the age of 20 have their triglyceride level tested.

High Triglyceride Medical Treatment

Medicine may be prescribed for those with dangerously high triglycerides and risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD). In this case, a physician may choose to first lower the LDL ("bad") cholesterol level and raise the HDL ("good") cholesterol level before adding medicine to treat the triglycerides. If lifestyle changes do not sufficiently lower triglyceride count, medicine may be required, but this is determined by more than just a number. A physician will also check cholesterol levels, and other risk factors for heart disease. Several medications include fibrates, nicotinic acid (Niacin), statins, high doses of omega-3, and Lovaza. Fibrates (fibric acid derivatives) should be used with caution when also taking statins. There is a greater risk of developing a life-threatening muscle problem called rhabdomyolysis, which can lead to kidney failure. A doctor may prescribe an omega-3 fatty acids medicine (Lovaza), which is a highly concentrated form of omega-3 fatty acids that can lower triglyceride levels. This medicine may raise LDL cholesterol levels slightly, so cholesterol levels will have to be monitored closely. One may also consider meeting with a registered dietician or nutritionist who can assist in making healthier food choices. If necessary, one should get help to meet his or her triglyceride treatment goals.

High Triglyceride Lifestyle and Home Treatment

The best high triglycerides treatment is by making changes toward a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise. Moderate physical activity five or more days a week can help lower levels as well as lead to weight loss, which lowers both triglycerides and cholesterol. Reducing saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol intake can improve triglyceride levels as well. Alcohol has a strong effect on triglyceride levels. Consuming more than one drink per day for women, or two for men, can considerably raise triglyceride levels, and some with high triglycerides may need to remove alcohol from their diet completely. One should cut back on calories, because extra calories are converted to triglycerides stored in body fat, and eliminate trans fat intake, which are prevalent in fried and commercially baked foods. Eating fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, instead of red meat, which is high in saturated fat, can help maintain healthy triglyceride levels. Some examples are mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon. One shouldn't overlook the importance of increasing physical activity to eliminate many high triglyceride causes through joining a gym, consulting a personal trainer, or simply going for a walk every day. Before increasing activity, consult with a physician to be sure it is safe and won't cause other problems.

Last Updated: April 18, 2018