Cholesterol's Brother: Trigylcerides

When learning how to become healthier by lowering your cholesterol, you may also want to check your body's levels of a similar fat in the body, triglyceride. Cholesterol and triglyceride are both lipids that your body needs to survive. However, if you do not maintain healthy levels of the fats in your body, both cholesterol and triglyceride, you could be at risk of heart attack and stroke. Most people have their doctor check cholesterol levels, but if you want to stay heart-healthy, inquire about your triglyceride level as well, if your doctor has not already informed you of it.

Triglycerides are normally measured as part of your cholesterol test. This level appears as a fourth number, after HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and total cholesterol. Unfortunately, medical research has only recently been started on the effects of triglycerides in the blood stream. Usually, elevated levels of triglyceride go hand in hand with low levels of HDL cholesterol and high levels of LDL cholesterol, so it is apparent that lower levels of triglycerides are better for your body. However, it is not yet apparent if triglycerides are contributing to the problems of high LDL cholesterol or if high levels are a symptom of high LDL cholesterol. Because studies are still in the works, doctors vary on their recommendations when facing patients with high triglyceride levels. Most of the time, lowering high LDL cholesterol and raising low HDL cholesterol brings triglyceride levels back into a normal range with no additional work.

However, in some special cases, high levels of triglyceride are being treated in patients. Normally, a person has a triglyceride level reading of lower than 150. Anything above 150 is considered high, with levels above 500 being extremely high and dangerous. Most of the patients treated for high triglyceride levels suffer from metabolic syndrome X, a genetic tradition that also causes high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, hypertension, abnormal blood clotting, and insulin resistance. Because of this, patients suffering from metabolic syndrome X are at an extremely high risk for heart attack. High triglyceride levels are mainly treated with weight loss, exercise, and medication, although diet is a factor as well. If you believe that you suffer from this disease, or would like to better understand your levels of cholesterol and triglyceride, talk to your family doctor. He or she can perform a simple blood test and measure the levels of lipids in your blood to see if you are staying heart-healthy. If not, speak to you doctor about changing your diet and exercise to live a healthier lifestyle and about the many possible medications you may need.

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