K38 -- September 2010 -- Lowering Triglycerides
Intro: When you go in to see the doctor, itís typical to get a blood test to check lipid levels, your cholesterol and triglycerides. You likely know itís important to lower bad cholesterol levels, because high levels increase your risk of heart attack. The same holds true for triglycerides. But what you might not know is that instead of taking medicine to lower triglycerides, most people can lower that number simply by moving more.
Take the stairs, walk the dog, stand at your desk instead of sitting, or hit the gym. Anything that gets you moving lowers your triglyceride level.
"Triglycerides can come down with exercise because they're an energy source, just like glucose is an energy source, or sugar, for our body. So anything you do that's exercise, aerobic, will help lower them."
Cardiologist Dr. Stephen Kopecky says triglycerides go up when you eat carbohydrates or sugars, like those found in soft drinks, juice, white rice, white bread and alcohol. Triglycerides are an essential fat in our blood and bodies. But they're also a building block of cholesterol. So the higher your triglyceride level, the more bad cholesterol your body produces. And this increases your risk of heart attack by promoting plaque buildup in your coronary arteries.
"So the more you have, the more you're going to have the bad cholesterol in your bodies."
But because triglycerides are a source of energy, you can lower levels fast with exercise. Any exercise. You see, when you exercise, your muscles use the triglycerides in your bloodstream as a source of energy. The more you exercise, the more your muscles use, lowering triglyceride levels. So if you eat lots of carbs for lunch and your triglycerides go up, an afternoon walk can bring those levels down. A good number to shoot for is 150 or lower.
"Sometimes we'll have patients come in with high triglycerides and we'll do a treadmill test on them, which is a 7- or 8-minute walk on a treadmill. We'll say, 'Let's send you down to the lab and get your bloods drawn.' And we'll find their triglycerides will drop 50 points from the few minutes on the treadmill."
Dr. Kopecky says this is very important, because millions of people are on medication to lower triglycerides when all some of them need to do is change their lifestyle.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
Here's another statistic that's pretty amazing: a study of seven men who exercised every day for a week showed that they cut their triglyceride levels in half.
Dr. Kopecky says that some people who have very high triglyceride levels ó over 400 ómay need to continue taking medications. Be sure to talk to your doctor about medications before you go off them, because you may be someone who should continue to take them.
And in addition to moving more, cutting down on sugar and carbs can help lower your triglycerides.
For more information about triglycerides, visit our website at …
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