What are the Causes of High Triglycerides?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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There are a number of causes of high triglycerides, which are necessary fats found in the bloodstream that help to provide energy for the body. High triglycerides, though, go hand in hand with high cholesterol, and can significantly increase one's risk of heart disease and stroke. For this reason, it is important to identify the causes of high triglycerides, and attempt to keep them within normal ranges through diet and exercise.

The causes of high triglycerides include illnesses, medication, diet, and heredity. Some of these cannot be changed, but lifestyle changes can help to lower cholesterol and lower triglycerides at the same time. Hypothyroidism, kidney disease, and diabetes are three of the most common causes of high triglycerides, so it is important to manage these conditions, and to always follow one's doctor's instructions. Medications such as birth control pills, beta blockers, diuretics, and steroids, among others, also cause high triglyceride levels.


Of course, diet is one of the leading causes of high triglycerides, and one of the most easily changed. Diets high in fat and sugar cause high cholesterol and triglycerides, so it is important to limit fats, sugars, processed foods, and soda, for example. A better diet to prevent high triglycerides, as well as to lower cholesterol levels, is a diet made up primarily of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Red meat should be avoided, and replaced with chicken or fish as much as possible; in addition, switch to low fat cheeses and skim milk.

In addition, exercise can make a big difference in triglyceride levels. When one loses weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides typically decrease as well, which all reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. Aerobic exercise is the best way to lose weight and improve overall health; brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or using aerobic machines at a fitness center are all effective ways to get aerobic exercise. In addition, one should quit smoking and limit alcohol intake.

High triglycerides tend to occur with age as well, so it is especially important to follow a healthy diet and exercise program throughout one's entire life. If one is concerned about cholesterol and triglyceride levels, a simple blood test administered by a doctor can determine whether they are a cause for concern. Normal triglyceride levels are considered to be under 150; borderline falls between 150 and 200, whereas anything over 200 is determined to be high to dangerously high. A doctor may be able to make changes to medications to help lower very high triglycerides as well.


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