Triglycerides Too High and Pancreatitis Risk Connection
Both cholesterol and triglycerides are fats in the blood that are very important to the body. They are responsible for many physiological processes. Cholesterol for instance, is useful in cell formation as well as the production of some hormones. It can come from foods that are eaten, however the body produces it as well (in fact, the body actually produces enough cholesterol for its functional needs). Triglycerides are the result of the breakdown of ingested fats. They are used by the body for energy and also used for its storage. While both of these elements are important to the body, having levels of cholesterol and triglycerides too high can create long term health complications like heart disease. But, there are other health conditions associated with having high triglycerides.
A normal triglycerides level is typically one that falls below 151 mg / dL. Anyone with levels below this is considered to have safe levels of triglycerides. Above this, risk of health complications grows along with the level of triglyceride elevation. Many times, achieving a normal triglycerides level is attainable with diet and exercise. Both limiting the intake of foods that can increase triglycerides levels as well as increasing physical activity can help reduce the presence of the blood fats.
There are many reasons why getting high levels of triglycerides under control is a good idea. One problem associated with triglycerides too high for good health has to do with the pancreas. The pancreas is an organ that helps produce food digesting enzymes as well as insulin, which the body uses to regulate blood sugar. Pancreatitis, the inflammation of the pancreas, has been associated with having elevated levels of triglycerides. This occurs when levels of triglycerides reach above 1000 mg / dL. People who have a family history of immediate family members with triglycerides too high are at an even greater risk of developing pancreatitis from this cause.
It’s not entirely known how exactly triglycerides can be responsible for causing pancreatitis. One of the most commonly accepted theories is that extremely high levels of triglycerides lead to the formation of increased levels of chylomicrons within the blood. These are large particles that can obstruct capillaries and create internal damage which can then result in cytoxic injury from triglycerides degrading into free fatty acids. This process ultimately can result in the inflammatory process that leads to pancreatitis.
If there aren’t already enough reasons to keep from having triglycerides too high, pancreatitis is a big one. It can be a serious acute problem, or a chronic and ongoing condition. Inflammation may not sound too serious, but the condition can lead to both tissue death and bleeding. Cysts and abscesses can form and the inflammation can be easily spread to other areas of the body. In chronic and ongoing cases, diabetes can result as well as severe malnutrition.
Oftentimes, treating pancreatitis involves a hospital stay where care will be provided to both rest the pancreas and allow it to heal as well as pain medication. Longer term treatment of the condition often revolves around what has caused it. When caused from levels of triglycerides too high, treatment following the acute care of the pancreas will often focus on reducing these levels. Dietary and exercise provisions are often required. Since what raises triglycerides in the first place is often foods that are eaten, avoiding those that are high in fats (particularly saturated fats) as well as refined sugars and carbohydrates is often necessary. Abstinence from alcohol is often also recommended thanks to both its high sugar and calorie content. People with a low HDL cholesterol (this is the one that is considered the “good cholesterol”) often benefit from these types of dietary changes as well. Exercise is often very important too, and increasing physical activity can help to lower triglyceride levels and promote overall better health.
Sometimes, medications are required in order to properly manage levels of triglycerides too high to be considered healthy. One of the most common of these is a class of medications known as fibrates. Both Lopid and TriCor are commonly used fibrates. Often times for the management of triglycerides, these medications are combined with statins, another type of medication used to lower blood fat levels.
High triglycerides are best managed with a combination approach that includes proper medical care, healthy lifestyle changes and medications if necessary. Managing the condition before it becomes serious can lead to a reduced risk of health complications such as pancreatitis. It’s important that if any risk factors for developing unhealthy triglycerides levels exist such as a family history or obesity, that these be discussed with a health care provider, because regular monitoring may be required in order to observe blood fat levels within the body. As with many health concerns, a proper diet as well as regular exercise go a long way in providing solid preventative measures.