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What Are the Causes of High Triglycerides?

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Updated September 15, 2013

Question: What Are the Causes of High Triglycerides?
Answer: In the midst of all of the concerns surrounding high cholesterol, we sometimes forget that our triglyceride levels can also be too high. Although high triglyceride levels may not be a definitive predictor of having heart disease down the road, studies are showing that having persistently high levels of this lipid in our blood could contribute to heart attacks and strokes. This may be partially due to the fact that high LDL levels – which have been positively linked to heart disease - also coincide with high triglycerides levels. Nonetheless, addressing any risks for having high triglycerides can help you to prevent heart disease down the road.

Causes of High Triglycerides

There are a variety of things that can cause your triglycerides to be high, including: Ideally, your triglyceride levels should be below 150 mg/dL. If your healthcare provider tells you that your triglyceride levels are high, correcting most of the issues mentioned above can lower them, such as:
  • Stopping smoking
  • Beginning an exercise regimen
  • Eating healthier (especially lowering your carbohydrate and saturated fat intake)
  • Getting your blood sugar levels under control, if you are a diabetic
  • Limiting the amount of alcohol that you consume (one drink per day maximum in women, and a maximum of two drinks per day in men)
In some cases, such as inherited high triglyceride levels, you may need to also take medications to lower them. Medications - such as fibrates, niacin or statins - can help lower your triglycerides and affect other areas of your lipid panel, too.

Sources:

Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (PDF), July 2004, The National Institutes of Heath: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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