You probably already know you need to watch your cholesterol and blood pressure. Both of these factors can increase your risk of heart disease if they get too high. But something that doesn’t get as much attention is your triglycerides — and knowing your level is important. Fortunately, it’s easy to find out what yours are — and there are some great ways to keep them at a healthy level.
What are triglycerides?
Your triglycerides are measured when you get a “lipid panel,” or a blood test to check your cholesterol. Triglycerides are simply fat in the blood. Everyone has some triglycerides, as your body needs them to survive. Your body makes some triglycerides on its own, but others come from the food you eat. If they get too high, your risk of heart disease can increase, especially if your “good” cholesterol (HDL) is too low. Triglyceride levels are broken down as follows:
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL
- Borderline High: 150 — 199 mg/dL
- High: 200 — 499 mg/dL
- Very High: 500 mg/dL or above
When you get your blood test results, your triglycerides will be listed. If yours are borderline high or above, your physician may talk with you about ways you can improve your numbers.
What raises triglycerides?
Some people are more prone to high triglycerides because of genetics. In addition, diabetes, kidney, liver, and thyroid disease may raise your triglyceride levels. If you have any of these issues, your physician will work with you to manage the condition and hopefully lower your triglycerides in the process.
In some cases, however, your diet and activity may cause high triglycerides. The following factors can cause higher levels of triglycerides:
- Lack of physical activity
- Diet high in carbohydrates
- Being overweight
- Drinking alcohol regularly (more than one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men)
- Eating unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats found in fatty meats and processed foods
How to lower them
It’s probably no surprise that in order to lower your triglycerides, you need to adopt some heart-healthy habits that can also improve your cholesterol and blood pressure. This includes:
- Getting regular exercise most days of the week
- Eating less sugar and more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein such as poultry
- Eating fatty fish like salmon — or talking with your physician about an omega-3 supplement
- Losing weight (a loss of just five to 10 percent of your body weight can have great benefits)
- No more than one drink a day for women, two for men
- No smoking
If you’re able to adopt even some of these healthy habits, you’ll lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other diseases like diabetes. You’ll feel better and increase your chances for a long, healthy life.
CarePoint Health Primary Care
Your primary care physician can help you manage your healthcare, and answer any questions you have about your health. Your PCP will help you navigate your well visits and specialist care throughout your life, and will be your health care advocate. To find a skilled primary care physician at CarePoint Health, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.