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Cardiovascular News at A Glance

Source: Saturday Evening Post, Sept.-Oct. 2003 

You have your cholesterol levels under control, but now your doctor says your triglycerides are still high. Triglycerides, like cholesterol, are blood fats. Research suggests that high levels increase risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. And very high levels (see chart) put you at risk for pancreatitis, a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas. 

The good news is that lifestyle and dietary changes can significantly reduce triglyceride levels in most people. Mayo Clinic experts offer the following tips to help lower your risk of disease:

* Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, and herring.**

* Cut back on sugary foods, such as cookies and soda.

* Cut back on alcohol.

* Exercise at least 30 minutes nearly every day.

The test for triglyceride levels should be done when you are fasting and no extra triglycerides from a recent meal are present in the bloodstream. Triglyceride levels after a meal may be 10 times higher than fasting levels.

Normal Less than 150 mg/dL
Borderline high 150 to 199 mg/dL
High 200 to 499 mg/dL
Very high 500 mg/dL or higher

Many people with high triglycerides also have other conditions that increase the risk of coronary artery disease, including obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.