What are Triglycerides? (Part 1 of 2) | HealthiNation

Uploaded by HealthiNation on 29.02.2012

Hello and welcome to HealthiNation. I’m Dr. Paul Knoepflmacher
You already know that it’s important to monitor and control blood pressure and cholesterol
to help prevent heart disease and stroke. But there is also another risk factor you
need to watch for: high triglyceride levels.
Triglycerides are a type of fat, or lipid, found naturally in the foods we eat and they
are also manufactured in our bodies. Triglycerides are important because they function as small
storage units of energy in our bodies.
Inside the body, triglycerides are found in fat tissue and in the blood – but how do
they get there? When we eat and digest foods with fats in them, our bodies absorb the triglycerides
into the bloodstream and then are delivered to the cells, where they’re used for energy,
or taken up by the liver to be repackaged. Any triglycerides that are not immediately
used as fuel get stored in the fat cells to be used later. This is what happens when we
over eat… we’re giving our bodies more energy than it can use immediately. That energy
– which is measured in calories – gets stored as fat
So why is it bad to have high triglycerides? Well it has been found that when you have
high triglycerides you also have a higher risk for coronary artery disease and stroke.
How it increases this risk is still unclear. Also, people with high triglyceride levels
also tend to have other conditions such as obesity and metabolic syndrome, which are
risk factors for heart disease and stroke as well.
The only way to know if you have high triglyceride levels, also called hypertriglyceridemia,
is to have a blood test. Your triglyceride levels are usually measured along with your
cholesterol levels, which is where this can get confusing. Triglycerides are similar to
cholesterol, but they are NOT the same. The two are different substances and are used
in different ways inside the body. Cholesterol is used, for example, to build cell walls
and manufacture certain hormones whereas, triglycerides provide your body with energy.
Some people are at a higher risk of developing high triglycerides because of genetics and
certain lifestyle choices. These risk factors include:
- Overeating: If you eat more calories than your body burns for energy, those calories
will be converted into triglycerides. - Alcohol: High alcohol consumption increases
your liver’s production of triglycerides and reduces the amount of fat cleared from
your blood. - Age: Triglyceride levels tend to increase
as individuals grow older. - Medications: Certain drugs, such as birth
control pills and steroids, can cause triglyceride levels to rise.
- Finally, genetics can, and often do, play a role in the amount of triglycerides in the
blood. If someone in your family has hypertriglyceridemia, you might too.
Some pre-existing medical conditions are linked to high triglyceride levels. These include:
- Diabetes - Liver and kidney disease
- Hypothyroidism - And metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of factors that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.
Besides abnormal triglyceride levels, the factors also include:
- High cholesterol - Excess body fat around the waist, also called
abdominal obesity - Abnormal sugar metabolism, which includes
high blood sugar and insulin resistance; and - High blood pressure.
Based on these factors, if you feel that you might be at risk, it’s important to get
your levels checked as soon as possible.