Hypertriglyceridemia Treatment with Insulin vs Diet

Hypertriglyceridemia Treatment

Hypertriglyceridemia refers to a condition where the triglycerides levels in the blood are higher than normal (normal levels are those which fall below 150 mg / dL). In the United States, the condition is very common. Elevated levels of triglycerides between 151 mg / dL and 199 mg / dL indicate an increased risk for heart disease and cardiac events. Levels between 200 mg / dL and 499 mg / dL can prove to even more significantly raise the risk for heart related conditions. And, hypertriglyceridemia as indicated where triglycerides are higher than 500 mg / dL can lead to very serious health concerns if left untreated, including heart attacks and strokes. This is mostly because elevated levels of the fats in the blood, known as triglycerides, are thought to be a major precursor to atherosclerosis or, hardening of the arteries. Typically, hypertriglyceridemia treatment involves a combination approach that incorporates dietary and lifestyle changes, medications if indicated and regular monitoring and care by a medical professional.

Typically, exercise along with a triglyceride lowering diet is more than adequate in order to provide normalization in levels of the blood fats. Because of the important relationship between triglycerides and sugar, reduction of simple carbohydrates and alcohol are the most important parts of the diet. An excess of sugars in the blood can cause the body to turn what it can not use or store into more of the three molecule blood fats, making triglycerides too high. Additionally, the avoidance of bad fats like saturated fat and trans fats are also important while on a triglyceride lowering diet. And, for those with elevated levels of other lipids in the blood, a hyperlipidemia diet may be more suitable to reduce the levels of all elevated lipids in the blood. With consistent adherence to a diet geared towards reducing triglycerides, their levels can be reduced dramatically in as little as a few weeks. This dietetic change combined with moderate exercise at least five times weekly for a minimum of half an hour, can add an equal amount of triglyceride lowering effects. Most commonly, this form of hypertriglyceridemia treatment is more than enough to provide adequate level normalization. If the combination of diet and exercise are not enough to reduce high triglycerides, then additional assistance may come in the form of medications. Typically, drugs called statins or fibrates are used in order to further reduce levels of the blood fats. Additionally, it is not uncommon for niacin or fish oil (for its Omega-3 content) to be included in hypertriglyceridemia treatment as well. In almost all cases, this form of treatment is more than sufficient to reduce and maintain appropriate levels of triglycerides.

Severe hypertriglyceridemia however may not respond to these conventional treatments. This is especially true if there are other underlying health conditions present such as diabetes or pancreatitis. In these cases, insulin may be used as a form of hypertriglyceridemia treatment. Sometimes, this therapy is used in emergency situations, where the levels of these fats in the blood have become so high that a cardiac emergency may be imminent. Insulin is effective at rapidly reducing triglyceride levels by prompting the production of lipoprotein lipase, which can reduce triglycerides quickly. Maintenance of insulin therapy is sometimes continued following initial treatment to further stabilize triglycerides.

The determination as to whether or not insulin is an appropriate treatment option for elevated levels of the fats circulating in the blood is done by a triglycerides test. Most often, this is performed as a part of a lipid panel, which can show whether or not levels of cholesterol and other blood lipids are elevated as well. If the blood fat levels are severely elevated as evidenced on a triglycerides test, then it is possible that insulin therapy may be indicated as a form of hypertriglyceridemia treatment. But, this is most commonly reserved for test results that are far beyond the upper limits of even the high risk range of triglycerides levels.

Essentially, insulin can be a powerful and effective way to quickly lower the levels of triglycerides in the blood. But, it is reserved for use in cases where levels are severely elevated. For slightly increased and even moderately high levels of triglycerides, diet, exercise and sometimes medications, are more than sufficient forms of hypertriglyceridemia treatment. And, even when insulin is implicated and used to normalize triglyceride levels, it does not negate the need for dietary and lifestyle changes including the avoidance of foods that encourage hypertriglyceridemia and regular exercise.