Triglycerides

A fair number of people have heard the term "triglycerides", but do not know all of the ins and outs of its meaning. Find out more about triglycerides.

A few basic notions

As we age, having blood work done that includes “good” (HDL) and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels becomes an integral part of health monitoring. Another element is measured during a blood test to assess cholesterol levels—triglycerides. These are fatty substances found in the blood. What roles do they play in the body?

Triglycerides make up the body’s fat reserves and can provide energy when needed. They come from two sources:

  • diet
  • liver production

When excess triglycerides are present in the blood, this is called hypertriglyceridemia. This problem can contribute to increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as:

  • myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • cerebrovascular accident (CVA or stroke)

Very high levels of triglycerides can also cause other health problems such as pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas.

The causes of hypertriglyceridemia

Hypertriglyceridemia may or may not be hereditary. Some of the causes that explain an elevation of triglycerides are:

  • alcohol consumption
  • obesity
  • sedentariness
  • a low-protein and high-sugar diet
  • poorly controlled diabetes
  • hypothyroidism
  • pregnancy
  • various kidney or liver diseases
  • certain drugs

If your triglyceride levels are high, ask your pharmacist if certain medications you take may contribute to the problem.

Treatment of hypertriglyceridemia

Making certain lifestyle changes may be sufficient if the degree of elevation of triglycerides is mild. Here are some measures to consider in this situation:

  • Lose weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption to a maximum of two glasses a day if you are a man and one glass a day if you are a woman.
  • Reduce your consumption of foods and drinks that are high in sugar and carbohydrates (soft drinks, chocolate, pastries, bread, pasta, rice, etc.).
  • Reduce fat consumption (fried foods, oils, red meat, butter, cheese, other high-fat milk products, etc.).
  • Adequately control blood glucose (sugar levels in the blood) if you live with diabetes.

Nutrition has a significant influence on triglyceride levels. This is why it may be beneficial to consult a nutritionist.

It should also be noted that if the triglyceride levels in your blood is elevated, it is to your advantage to quit smoking.

If lifestyle changes are not enough, some medications can be prescribed to you. Here is some advice regarding medication:

  • Take your medication every day, as recommended by your pharmacist. Adherence to treatment is crucial in order to reap all of the benefits.
  • Ask your pharmacist to inform you about the most common adverse effects.
  • Speak to your pharmacist if you believe your treatment is causing an adverse effect.
  • Remember that it is normal not to feel any particular effect when taking this type of preventive treatment. Although its effects on your health go unnoticed, they are no less real!
  • Do not interrupt treatment without first having spoken to your doctor or pharmacist.

Remember that your pharmacist is always there to help you and to answer your questions concerning any health issues!

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Triglycerides

A fair number of people have heard the term "triglycerides", but do not know all of the ins and outs of its meaning. Find out more about triglycerides.
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