To keep your heart healthy, it’s important to know what triglycerides are, why they need to be kept below a certain level, and how to do it.
You’ve probably heard for years that high cholesterol can be bad for your heart. But there’s a lesser-known player that’s just as important to heart health: triglycerides. Cholesterol and triglycerides are both fats found in the blood, and when their levels are too high, they can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. Your body gets most of its triglycerides from the foods you eat, but it can also make some of them. When you eat, your body turns excess calories it doesn’t need into triglycerides, which are stored in fat cells for later use as energy.
Why are triglycerides important? Here are some facts that can put them into perspective.
1 Your diet has a major impact on your triglyceride levels.
A high-fat diet and excessive alcohol consumption are common causes of high triglycerides. People with high triglycerides are advised to drink alcohol in moderation or, in some cases, not at all. Alcohol can have a particularly powerful effect on triglycerides because it is high in calories and sugar.
2 But you can lead a healthy lifestyle and still have high triglycerides.
Like cholesterol, triglyceride levels can be lowered through a healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet and regular physical activity. But even that may not be enough to get you back into a healthy range if you have a genetic predisposition to high triglycerides. The liver can overproduce triglycerides, in which case drug treatment may be indicated.
3 Higher than normal triglyceride levels can increase your risk of heart disease.
High triglycerides can contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the arterial walls. A growing body of evidence confirms that elevated triglyceride levels are linked to cardiovascular disease risk independent of “bad” cholesterol levels.
4 Diabetes can affect triglyceride levels.
High triglycerides can be linked to high blood sugar. Elevated triglycerides and blood sugar are associated with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, is the result of the combination of at least three of the following five conditions: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess fat around the waist, high cholesterol and high triglycerides.
5 High triglycerides can also be a sign of other health problems.
They can be linked to obesity, low thyroid hormone levels, and liver or kidney problems, such as B. non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, one of the main causes of liver failure.
6 Certain medications can increase your triglyceride levels.
Certain birth control pills, steroids, HIV medications, and beta-blockers can also increase your triglyceride levels. In some cases, your doctor may switch you to a different medication if it affects your triglycerides.
7 High triglycerides can damage more than just your heart.
A study published in January 2020 in the European Heart Journal indicates that triglycerides may play a role in all types of pathologies related to atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, stroke and heart attack, just like cholesterol. The study also states that very high triglyceride levels can damage the pancreas and even cause skin conditions, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
Don’t let these facts discourage you.
The good news is that your doctor can easily check your triglyceride levels with a simple blood test, and lifestyle changes can make a world of difference. Because triglycerides are highly dependent on diet, a low-fat diet may be enough for some people to normalize triglyceride levels. Changes in eating habits, physical activity, and weight loss can lead to quite drastic reductions in triglycerides.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.
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