In this season commonly marked by excess, it may be easy to get off track in your effort to watch what you eat and drink. This can be particularly important if you have been diagnosed with high (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol, but even someone who hasn’t had problems with cholesterol can have issues with a different fat in your blood, triglycerides.
Triglycerides are a type of lipid in your blood that is created from food you eat. If the calories aren’t needed right away, they are converted into triglycerides and stored in your fat cells to be used as energy at a later time.
There are no symptoms of high triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia), so it’s important to get blood levels checked periodically to make sure your levels are in the healthy range. Unchecked, high triglycerides can contribute to clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis), and heart problems such as stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.
Talk with your doctor to learn positive ways to control high triglyceride levels. Some things you may talk about with your doctor might include:
1. How is my triglyceride level determined?
When your doctor checks your blood as part of a physical examination, he or she likely will check your cholesterol levels. There are a few different types of cholesterol that are checked, HDL (“good”) cholesterol, LDL (“bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol levels. You may have normal cholesterol levels, and still have a high triglyceride level.
2. How is a triglyceride problem treated?
Initially, your doctor will instruct you to try and make lifestyle changes such as improving your diet and exercise activity to try and bring the triglyceride level down to a more normal level.
3. What is a normal triglyceride level?
Doctors typically recommend a triglyceride level that is less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (1.7 millimoles per L). A level of 150 to 199 is considered borderline high, and a level of 200 to 499 is considered high; over 500 is very high.
4. What causes someone to have a high triglyceride level?