Triglyceride Levels: A Window Into Your Lifestyle

Community Member

I was recently having a conversation with a good friend of mine who also struggles with his cholesterol (his doctor has him on Lipitor as well), and he was telling me that during his last doctor's visit his triglyceride levels were off the chart.

My triglyceride levels normally swing between 160 and as high as 215. Normally, triglyceride levels will fall into one of the following categories:  Normal: less than 150 mg/dL; Borderline-High: 150-199 mg/dL; High: 200-499 mg/dL; and Very High: 500 mg/dL.

In conversations with my cardiologist I was told that recent diet and lifestyle activity has a great impact on triglyceride levels. Basically, if you eat lots of fats and sugars two days before a blood screen it will have a great impact on triglyceride readings than it would have on LDL or HDL levels. When going over the results with my cardiologist he will inquire about activities prior to the blood screen to see if there is a correlation between the high readings and my lifestyle - and there always seems to be

I have actually started keeping a mental journal of what I eat and how much I exercise for about two weeks prior to a blood test and it has helped me tweak my lifestyle enough to make a difference. I guess the only exception was my latest blood test which came right after the 4th of July holiday, so you can just imagine what those triglyceride levels looked like.

As I mentioned above, high triglycerides are a lifestyle-related risk factor; however, underlying diseases or genetic disorders can be the cause. Many people have high triglyceride levels due to being overweight/obese, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and/or a diet very high in carbohydrates (60 percent or more of calories).

The main therapy to reduce triglyceride levels is to change your lifestyle. This means control your weight, eat a heart-healthy diet, get regular physical activity, avoid tobacco smoke, limit alcohol to one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men and limit beverages and foods with added sugars.

If your triglyceride levels are consistently over 200 or you're having difficulty managing your triglyceride levels, make sure to schedule time with your cardiologist and work on an action plan that will help you lower and manage your levels.