1. What strategies can be used to lower triglyceride levels?
For many people, high triglycerides are caused by another disorder such as diabetes, obesity, renal failure, or alcoholism. With these conditions, the strategy is to treat the primary cause. When high triglycerides are not caused by another disorder, they are often seen together with high cholesterol, and treatment is directed toward lowering both cholesterol and triglycerides. Lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and increased exercise are usually the primary strategy for lowering levels. If these fail, lipid-lowering medications such as statins are generally recommended. For more on this, visit the American Heart Association's webpage on Getting Healthy.
A few products are available to test lipid levels, including triglycerides, at home. There are two types of home testing: those where you collect the sample at home and then mail it away to a laboratory for testing and those where you conduct the test yourself at home (self-monitoring). The American Heart Association hasn't taken a position on the use of home testing devices for measuring lipid levels. Before making the decision to use one of these products, you may want to review the article about home testing on this site: With Home Testing, Consumers Take Charge of Their Health.
3. What is VLDL and how does it relate to triglyceride?
Very Low Density Lipoprotein (VLDL) is one of the major lipoprotein particles. Others include high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL). Each one of these particles contains a mixture of cholesterol, protein, and triglyceride, but in varying amounts unique to each type of particle. LDL contains the highest amount of cholesterol. HDL contains the highest amount of protein. VLDL contains the highest amount of triglyceride. Since VLDL contains most of the circulating triglyceride and since the compositions of the different particles are relatively constant, it is possible to estimate the amount of VLDL-cholesterol by dividing the triglyceride value (in mg/dL) by 5. At present, there is no simple, direct way of measuring VLDL-cholesterol, so the estimate calculated from triglyceride is used in most settings. This calculation is not valid when the triglyceride is greater than 400 mg/dL. Increased levels of VLDL-cholesterol have been found to be associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
4. Are there any symptoms associated with a high level of triglycerides?
Usually, most people with high triglyceride levels have no symptoms and the only means of discovering a high level is with blood tests. However, in rare cases, a person may have an extremely high level of triglycerides (well above 1000 mg/dL) sustained over time and the individual may experience repeated bouts of acute pancreatitis. Some of the signs and symptoms include pain in the upper half of the stomach area that develops suddenly and then gradually gets worse, fever, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes jaundice. A person with severely high levels may also develop lesions on the skin called xanthomas. These typically appear as several small, round, solid, yellow bumps mostly on the back, chest, buttocks, shoulders and thighs.
This article was last reviewed on September 18, 2013. | This article was last modified on January 6, 2014.
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