High triglyceride levels are a common finding in both men and women in the United States. Triglycerides are a type of fat that the body uses for energy. They are found in saturated fats, which includes animal and dairy products, and tropical oils. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey(NHANES) 1999-2004, 29.6% of women in the United States, age 20 years and older, have elevated triglyceride levels. An elevated triglyceride level is defined as being greater than 150 mg/dl.
In women, increases in triglyceride levels are seen associated with insulin resistance, which is thought of as a prediabetic condition, adult onset (type 2) non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, pregnancy, obesity, high carbohydrate diets, alcohol use, hypothyroidism, and metabolic disorders(especially in the polycystic ovarian syndrome also known as PCOS). PCOS is a type of insulin resistance in women, and is associated with increased risk for the development of diabetes and an increased risk of heart disease. In addition, the use is some prescription drugs including antipsychotics, some beta blockers(which is a medication used to lower one’s blood pressure), and some anti-inflammatory medications.
Metabolic changes associated with menopause and aging can be a major cause of elevated triglyceride levels and women. Although women generally have lower triglyceride levels than men throughout most of their life, a reversal happens in women usually above 60 years of age. Postmenopausal women tend to have higher levels of triglycerides, as compared to premenopausal woman. Aging has also been shown to increase triglyceride levels. These triglyceride increases are associated with Insulin resistance related to age, menopausal status, weight increase, and obesity. As women transition to menopause, an increase in the amount of abdominal fat tends to occur. This abdominal fat deposition predicts changes in both cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and insulin sensitivity. As estrogen levels decrease in the postmenopausal women, there tends to be an accumulation of abdominal fat.
How does one lower their triglyceride levels?
Your lifestyle can make a big difference in your triglyceride levels. Changes in lifestyle habits are a first-line therapy for treating elevated triglyceride levels and include weight control, regular physical activity, smoking cessation, restriction of alcohol use, and avoidance of high carbohydrate diets. The American Heart Association recommends that women should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity preferably daily, and more exercise to lose weight.
Some doctors are well versed in these therapeutic lifestyle changes. However, many people often need to seek advice from a nutritionist or dietitian to learn how to appropriately modify their dietary habits.If these therapeutic lifestyle changes aren't enough to lower the triglyceride level below 150 mg/dl, your doctor may prescribe medications such as high-dose omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, fibrates, and statins. It is important to remember that medications must be used in combination with lifestyle changes to permanently keep triglyceride levels normal. For more information, you can go to http://www.lipidcenter.com