Dr. Chauncey W. Crandall, author of Dr. Crandall’s Heart Health Report newsletter, is chief of the Cardiac Transplant Program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. He practices interventional, vascular, and transplant cardiology. Dr. Crandall received his post-graduate training at Yale University School of Medicine, where he also completed three years of research in the Cardiovascular Surgery Division. Dr. Crandall regularly lectures nationally and internationally on preventive cardiology, cardiology healthcare of the elderly, healing, interventional cardiology, and heart transplants. Known as the “Christian physician,” Dr. Crandall has been heralded for his values and message of hope to all his heart patients.


High Triglyceride Trouble

Friday, 22 October 2010 05:07 PM

Question: Even when I was in my 20s I had elevated triglyceride levels — long before my cholesterol counts started to climb. I am now in my 50s and am taking a statin drug to control my cholesterol, but my triglyceride counts remain stubbornly high (although the statin does help). Are there any risks associated with high triglycerides?

Dr. Crandall's Answer:
Triglycerides, like cholesterol, are a form of fat that circulate in the blood. Elevated triglycerides are often associated with underlying blood sugar disorders, particularly late-onset diabetes.
As someone develops glucose intolerance, triglyceride counts go up. Elevated triglycerides also are associated with metabolic syndrome, hypothyroidism, and are a risk factor for heart disease. In particular, triglycerides seem to play a part in developing hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis).
Since your elevated triglyceride levels were detected so early in your life, it’s likely that genetic factors have something to do with your counts. Since you are under a doctor’s care (you allude to the statin drug you are taking), I presume he has tested you for diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, and other conditions associated with elevated triglycerides.
Elevated levels of triglycerides often respond surprisingly well to the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. You can add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet through “fatty fish” such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon, or through supplements.
Either eat fish three times per week or add 1 gram to 4 grams of fish oil per day to your diet. You should also strictly control all sweets, carbohydrate intake, alcohol consumption, and keep your weight down.
High triglycerides are also associated with “pattern B” LDL cholesterol. This pattern indicates that the LDL particles are small and dense (and thus deadly) and embed more readily in the arteries than “pattern A” cholesterol. Your doctor should investigate this and may want to prescribe niacin (vitamin B3) in order to “plump up” your LDL cholesterol and thereby reduce your risk for heart disease.

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