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Triglycerides and Heart Attacks

Having high blood levels of triglycerides increases your risk for heart attacks and diabetes.

When you take in more calories than you body needs, the extra calories are converted to triglycerides. It doesn't matter whether the extra calories come from carbohydrates, fats or proteins. When your blood sugar level rises too high, your pancreas releases huge amounts of insulin that also raises blood triglyceride levels. The amount of insulin in your bloodstream is determined by how high blood sugar levels rise after eating. Insulin also lowers blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol that helps prevent heart attacks.

Those with high blood levels of triglycerides usually store most of their fat in their bellies rather than their hips and have low blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol that prevents heart attacks. If your triglyceride level is above the normal 150, you eat too much food or have high blood insulin levels that can cause heart attacks. You can reduce blood triglyceride level by eating less food and avoiding foods that cause the highest rise in blood sugar, such as bakery products, pasta, and foods with added sugar. Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood and seeds also lower triglycerides (5).

1) J Jeppesen, HO Hein, P Suadicani, F Gyntelberg. Triglyceride concentration and ischemic heart disease: An eight-year follow-up in the Copenhagen Male Study.Circulation 97: 11 (MAR 24 1998):1029-1036.

2) M Miller.The epidemiology of triglyceride as a coronary artery disease risk factor.Clinical Cardiology, 1999, Vol 22, Iss 6, Suppl. 2, pp II1-II6.

3) SH Gianturco, WA Bradley.Pathophysiology of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins in atherothrombosis: Cellular aspects.Clinical Cardiology, 1999, Vol 22, Iss 6, Suppl. 2, pp II7-II14.

4)A Georgopoulos.Postprandial triglyceride metabolism in diabetes mellitus.Clinical Cardiology, 1999, Vol 22, Iss 6, Suppl. 2, pp II28-II33.

5)WS Harris.Nonpharmacologic treatment of hypertriglyceridemia: Focus on fish oils.Clinical Cardiology, 1999, Vol 22, Iss 6, Suppl. 2, pp II40-II43. 6)L Stavenow, T Kjellstrom. Influence of serum triglyceride levels on the risk for myocardial infarction in 12510 middle aged males: interaction with serum cholesterol. Atherosclerosis, 1999, Vol 147, Iss 2, pp 243-247.

Checked 6/1/14

August 22nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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