Triglycerides and Heart Disease Risk

Triglycerides and Heart Disease

Triglycerides and heart disease are very intimately related. In fact, increased levels of these fats within the blood have been shown to not only dramatically increase the risk of various conditions of the heart, but also be one of the best predictors of the later development of heart diseases. Normally, triglycerides are a healthy part of the normal functioning of various processes within the body. They are used to transport cholesterol to the brain and the nerves and are also used by the body for energy and necessary for the storage of it as well. However, high triglycerides can have negative impacts on the body, primarily the important, blood pumping heart.

The major way in which both cholesterol and triglycerides impact the heart has to do with the way in which they contribute to the buildup of fatty and waxy substances within the arteries. When arteries become blocked by these blood fats, it is more difficult for blood to pass through, which can lead to serious health conditions. Cholesterol and triglycerides are further related in another way aside from their relationship to the development of heart conditions. When triglycerides levels are higher than normal, it often also means that HDL or good cholesterol levels are lower than optimal. HDL cholesterol removes the LDL cholesterol or “bad” variation, from the bloodstream.

Measuring triglycerides and heart disease risk is often done with a blood test. Acceptable triglycerides range as evidenced from a lipid panel is anything less than 151 mg / dL. The range above this, which extends up to 199 mg / dL can signal an elevated risk for heart conditions. The triglycerides range that falls between 200 mg / dL and 499 mg / dL is indicative of triglycerides too high that often require medical intervention for treatment, such as the use of medications combined with lifestyle changes. The most serious measurement of the blood fats is found in individuals whose levels are above 500 mg / dL, which can signal a dramatically increased risk for serious health conditions.

The most direct relationship between triglycerides and heart disease comes directly in the form of conditions like atherosclerosis. This condition is characterized by the formation of fatty buildups within the artery walls which leads to narrowing and hardening. Over time, this creates situations where it is more difficult for blood to pass through freely. Clots can form in these narrowed passageways, and can dislodge and travel to the brain or heart leading to strokes and heart attacks. Similarly, blockages related to coronary artery disease can also have detrimental effects to the heart. Sudden death can result from these blockages, where the heart is deprived of necessary nutrients and oxygen. Triglycerides and heart disease are also directly related in the form of heart attacks, which are also known as myocardial infarctions. These are also attributed to the inability of blood to reach the heart and can result in death of part of the organ or serious damage.

Indirectly, these health conditions can lead to further types of heart diseases and complications. For instance, coronary artery disease caused by high triglyceride levels can result in heart failure. This condition is a gradual impairment of the heart’s ability to supply the body with blood. Additional heart related indirect complications resulting from elevated triglycerides include those like peripheral artery disease. This condition is characterized by decreased blood flow to the legs and feet. Blockages related to peripheral artery disease reduce the amount of oxygen and nutrients being transported throughout the body. Triglycerides and heart disease can potentially be related to many of these conditions.

Due to both the numerous amount of heart diseases related to elevated triglycerides and the proven increased likelihood of their development when these blood fats are elevated, it is important to understand how lowering their levels plays an important role in maintaining good heart health. Those wondering how to lower triglycerides may be happy to know that lifestyle changes can play a very significant role in decreasing their abundance. Healthy dietary choices such as a reduction in saturated fats and simple carbohydrates as well as the avoidance of alcohol and tobacco products, combined with increased levels of physical activity can be a great way to reduce triglycerides and heart disease risk. However, these lifestyle changes should be combined with proper medical care. This is essential to managing and monitoring triglyceride levels as well as implementing medications if required. A healthful approach to healthy triglyceride levels can lead to better overall health as well as a reduced risk of both direct heart conditions and indirect health concerns relating to them.

References:

http://www.heart.org/
http://www.covenanthealthcare.com/Main/TypesofHeartDisease.aspx
http://www.drugs.com/enc/high-blood-cholesterol-and-triglycerides.html

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