High Triglycerides


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Triglycerides belong to a group of fat-related substances called lipids. An increase in levels of certain lipids—a condition called “hyperlipidemia”—contributes to heart disease.To test for hyperlipidemia, physicians rely on blood tests called lipid profiles that measure triglycerides as well as two types of the lipid cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol. In many people with hyperlipidemia, elevation of LDL predominates. Drugs in the statin family work particularly well at treating this form of hyperlipidemia. (For information on natural treatments for this condition, see the High Cholesterol article.) In some people with hyperlipidemia, however, high triglyceride levels are the primary problem. These people are just as much at risk for heart disease as people with elevated LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, if triglyceride levels get high enough, the pancreas may become inflamed, causing a dangerous condition called pancreatitis. Skin lesions called xanthomas may occur as well. Common causes of elevated triglyceride levels include genetic predisposition, diabetes, excessive alcohol intake, and various medications (including estrogen , tamoxifen, glucocorticoids , thiazide diuretics , and some beta-blockers ). People with high triglycerides may not respond well to statin drugs. Instead, they may need to use high-dose niacin or drugs in the fibrate family . Exercise (with or without weight loss) may also lower triglycerides. Diet, except when weight loss occurs, may not help, as a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet can actually raise triglyceride levels.

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