High Triglycerides

High Triglycerides

High triglyceride is a condition when triglyceride levels in the body exceed normal limits. If not handled properly, excessive triglyceride levels can increase the risk of heart disease and inflammation of the pancreas.

Triglycerides are a type of fat that can be found in blood and fat cells. The body gets most of its triglycerides from food, such as butter , cooking oil, fatty meats, cheese and cream. Triglycerides can also come from sugar and alcohol.

Fat from food consumed will be broken down and converted into energy. Any fat that the body does not use is converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells. When needed, triglycerides will be released to be used as energy.

Increased levels of triglycerides in the blood occur when intake of triglycerides from food exceeds the amount needed by the body. This condition can lead to thickening of the walls of blood vessels so that they are at risk of causing strokes, heart attacks and heart disease.

Causes of High Triglycerides

In addition to excessive fat intake, high levels of triglycerides in the blood are also influenced by several factors, namely:

1. Genetic disorders

Someone who has a family member with a history of familial hypertriglyceridemia genetic disorder is at risk of experiencing an abnormal increase in triglycerides in the body.

2. Consumption of excess carbohydrates

Poor diet patterns and excessive consumption of foods with carbohydrates can trigger an increase in calories and sugar in the body. Excess sugar and calories will be converted by the liver into triglycerides to be stored in fat cells.

3. Consumption of alcoholic beverages

Alcohol contains a lot of calories and sugar so it can affect triglyceride levels in a person's body.

4. Smoking habits

Compounds in cigarettes can cause the body to be unable to respond to the hormone insulin . In fact, the hormone insulin has an important role in regulating sugar and triglyceride levels. As a result, triglyceride levels in the body continue to increase.

5. Rarely exercise

When exercising, the body will break down fat cells to obtain energy. If a person rarely exercises, fat will accumulate so that blood triglyceride levels will increase.

6. Certain diseases or conditions

Certain diseases or conditions can cause a person to experience an increase in triglycerides in the blood. These diseases include:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney illness
  • Liver disease
  • Low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism)
  • Obesity
  • Menopause

7. Certain drugs

There are several types of drugs that can cause side effects in the form of increased triglycerides, namely:

  • diuretic drug
  • Corticosteroid type anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • Beta blockers for heart disease
  • Medications that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressive drugs)
  • HIV medicine
  • Vitamin A is a type of retinoid
  • The hormones estrogen and progesterone

Symptoms of High Triglycerides

High triglyceride levels in the body generally do not cause certain symptoms. However, high triglycerides caused by genetic disorders can cause xanthelasma , which are yellowish plaques caused by lumps of fat on the eyelids.

When to see a doctor

In many cases, people with high triglycerides are not aware that they have the condition. Sufferers usually find out that they have high triglyceride levels when they undergo a blood test.

Consult your doctor about other treatment options if your triglyceride levels remain high despite lifestyle changes. Also be alert if symptoms appear that lead to complications of high triglycerides.

Diagnosis of High Triglycerides

High triglycerides can be detected through a blood test. This test is part of a  cholesterol check  or fat profile to be precise. Examination of the fat profile should be carried out regularly every 4-6 years so that the level of fat in the body is always monitored.

In this test, blood will be drawn from a vein in the arm. In order to get accurate results, patients will be asked not to eat and drink anything other than water for 9-12 hours before blood collection.

Triglyceride levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), then graded based on the following categories:

  • Normal: Triglyceride level less than 150 mg/dL
  • High limit: Triglyceride level 150–199 mg/dL
  • High: Triglyceride levels 200–499 mg/dL
  • Very high: A triglyceride level greater than 500 mg/dL

High Triglyceride Treatment

Following a healthy diet and lifestyle is the main way to reduce excessive triglyceride levels. This can be done by:

1. Eat healthy fats

Eat more foods that contain unsaturated fats , such as nuts, sunflower seeds, avocados, and salmon and sardines. Also, replace vegetable oil with olive or canola oil.

2. Limit consumption of sugar and flour-based foods

Sugar and foods made from flour belong to the group of simplex carbohydrates. When consumed in excess, these foods can increase triglyceride levels in the body.

3. Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverages are a type of drink high in calories and sugar, so they run the risk of increasing triglyceride levels.

4. Exercise regularly

Do exercise for at least 30 minutes every day for 5 times a week. Physical activity can lower triglyceride levels and increase good cholesterol levels.

5. Quit smoking

Quitting smoking can lower triglyceride levels and improve insulin hormone action.

If your triglyceride levels are still high even though you have changed your lifestyle and diet, your doctor will give you medicines to lower your triglyceride levels. Some types of drugs that are commonly used are:

  • Statins
    In addition to lowering bad cholesterol levels, statin drugs, such as rosuvastatin and  atorvastatin , can be used to lower triglycerides and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Fibrates Fibrates
    , such as  fenofibrate and  gemfibrozil , are used to treat high triglycerides. However, this drug is not recommended for people with liver or kidney disease.
  • Nicotinic
    acid Nicotinic acid or niacin can lower triglyceride and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.

In addition to the drugs above, fish oil ( omega-3 fatty acids ) contained in salmon, tuna and sardines, can also help keep triglyceride levels normal.

Even so, first discuss with your doctor about the dosage, benefits, and risks of consuming fish oil. This is because excessive consumption of fish oil can cause blood clotting disorders.

High Triglyceride Complications

High triglyceride levels can increase the risk of pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis is a serious condition that can be life-threatening. Apart from pancreatitis, high triglycerides can also increase the risk of other diseases, such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Strokes

Prevention of High Triglycerides

To avoid high triglycerides, have regular blood tests so that triglyceride levels are always monitored. For adults, it is recommended to have a blood test every 4–6 years. Meanwhile for children, it is recommended to have a blood test at least once when they are 9-11 years old.

To prevent excessive triglyceride levels, take the following precautions:

  • Follow a complete and balanced nutritious diet.
  • Expand the consumption of fiber from fruits and vegetables.
  • Reduce and limit consumption of foods high in sugar, high in saturated fat, and foods made from flour.
  • Increase your intake of good fats , such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fish.
  • Do physical activity or regular exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages.
  • Make sure to get enough rest and sleep .
  • Take antihypertensive drugs and diabetes drugs according to doctor's recommendations.
  • Keep your weight to stay ideal.
  • Manage stress well.
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