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Diet and Nutrition

Can He Get His Triglyceride Levels Lower?



My husband is 64 years old and extremely active. He is also very fit and is doing most things that he can to lower his triglyceride level..which is still at 560.

Our primary physician has him on 80 mg. of simvistatin each day as well as taking the omega 3;s, eating oatbran,, oatmeal.,etc..

His levels have been high for several years and I wonder if he should continue with this regimen or seek the counsel of a cardiologist. His primary physician checks him every 6 months and seems to think he is doing OK.

I am not so sure. Can he get his levels lower? 





Thanks for your question. It may be that your husband's triglyceride levels are high due to a familial/genetic condition. Many individuals have hypertriglyceridemia (elevated triglyceride levels). Triglyceride levels should always be checked when a patient is fasting for at least 8 hours as the level will be higher post-prandial (after meals).

Triglyceride levels can be elevated due to high fat and/or high sugar diet, as well as alcohol.  In addition to limiting high fat foods (fast food, fried food, high fat desserts, butter, gravy, margarine, fatty cuts of meat, sausage, bacon, etc), excess sugar consumption should also be scaled back.  Sugar from soda, sweetened beverages, candy and dessert is not the only culprit.  Even excess sugar from fruit and fruit juice as well as other carbohydrates (pasta, rice, cereal, pretzels, corn, etc) may increase triglyceride levels.  Finally, being overweight or obese will increase triglyceride levels as can alcohol consumption.

Beyond diet, exercise, medication and omega-3-fatty acid supplementation (ie. prescription dose fish oil), there is not much more to do.  It sounds like your husband's physician has him on the right regimine to reduce his triglycerides and your husband is doing his part.

If his other lipid levels are within normal limits (HDL at 40 or higher, LDL at 130 or less and total cholesterol below 200), and other risk factors for coronary heart disease are controlled (i.e. high blood pressure, diabetes, etc), his risk for heart disease may be less even with an elevated triglyceride level.

Finally, if he has not seen a Registered Dietitian to review his diet for sugar and fat content, I'd highly recommend it!  To find an RD in your area, check out the American Dietetic Association web site: www.eatright.org  there is a section called "Find a nutrition professional" where he can locate one to work with.

Best of luck!

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Response by:

Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Adjunct Faculty
University of Cincinnati