In popular thought, high blood triglycerides are associated with a diet very high in fat content. However, it is not always so. The origins of the altered result may be linked to other factors.
Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with elevated triglycerides, don’t panic. It is necessary to investigate the background of the problem with the doctor to deal with it correctly.
What are triglycerides?
Triglyceride is a variety of lipids circulating in human blood and is present in some tissues of the body composition. It is not a foreign or foreign substance, but its elevation in plasma causes problems.
In normal metabolism, this fat is a reserve energy source. When ingested with food, lipid cells, called adipocytes, enclose triglycerides inside them for use when the time comes.
In situations that require more caloric expenditure, such as prolonged exercise or cold winter weather, the body uses these reserves to generate heat. It is not a mechanism exclusive to humans, but many animals use it in the same way.
Beyond that, each laboratory has its biochemical parameters with which it establishes normality; there are certain values that are considered adequate. High triglycerides are diagnosed when they exceed the concentration of 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood.
This high concentration is associated with increased cardiovascular risk and increased chances of suffering from acute myocardial infarction and strokes. Above 200 milligrams per deciliter, it is considered very high, and beyond 500, it is extremely careful.
High triglyceride causes
High triglycerides have as one of their main makers the unhealthy diet, but this is not the only origin. The sedentary lifestyle, genetics, and some systemic diseases are related to the disorder.
When it comes to diet, it is saturated fat and trans fat that raise cholesterol and triglycerides. The former also increase bad cholesterol or LDL.
Saturated fats are concentrated, above all, in dairy products of animal origin, such as cheese, milk, and butter. Red meat also provides large amounts of triglycerides, particularly the leanest cuts.
On the other hand, fats trans have a double negative effect, which involves lowering the good cholesterol and increasing those that clog arteries. They are found mainly in products that have been subjected to hydrogenation during their manufacture.
The pathologies that are most associated with an increase in blood triglycerides are the following:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Renal insufficiency.
Lack of exercise and sedentary life are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. To a large extent, the problem lies in the increase in triglycerides and cholesterol when the person does not play sports.
If we add to these bad habits like tobacco or alcoholism, the risk increases, and research shows how the mother’s lifestyle can alter the lipid levels in her babies during pregnancy.
Beyond the disease called “familial hypercholesterolemia,” in which the genetic basis is clear, high triglycerides alone do not escape the influence of heredity. When parents or grandparents have had the disorder, children and grandchildren are more likely to have the disorder.
No symptoms, yes, complications.
High triglycerides do not manifest with specific symptoms—neither the headache, nor chest discomfort, nor arrhythmias or tiredness. No sign can be attributed to the increase of these substances in the blood.
What we do find are complications derived from the disorder. That represents a big problem for the medical clinic. Sometimes the patient comes to an emergency room for a coronary event from his elevated triglycerides, and he didn’t know it.
Its elevation should be suspected. The blood lipid value should be tracked in obese people, in those with a family history, and those with other cardiac risk factors, such as hypertensive and diabetic patients.
In any case, a normal value detection does not rule out the probability of heart attack or stroke in people with other comorbidities.
What to do if triglycerides are high?
Measures can be taken to lower blood triglyceride levels when a high number is detected. If necessary, the doctor will indicate a specific drug, such as statins.
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In any case, international guidelines and scientific studies agree that if statins are not combined with a change in lifestyle, the effect will not be lasting. Among the modifications that are prescribed are the following:
- Decrease the amount of saturated fat and trans fat in the diet.
- Regular physical exercise.
- Reduce sedentary lifestyle by incorporating active breaks.
If nothing is sufficient, or the detected values exceed 500 milligrams per deciliter, the treatment should be combined with drugs other than statins. It is possible to receive the indication to consume fibrates, niacin, or omega-three supplements, as indicated by the Spanish Arteriosclerosis Society’s consensus.
In any case, high triglycerides are an alert that no one should ignore. Its silent presence represents a latent risk that, fortunately, can be controlled if there is timely detection.