A promising new treatment for high triglycerides

When you think about fat circulating in the bloodstream, you might immediately think of cholesterol. But there’s another type of fat you shouldn’t ignore: triglycerides. As with cholesterol, high triglycerides can also increase the risk of having a heart attack. Existing drugs for lowering triglycerides aren’t that good at reducing heart attack risk. That’s why a report on a new way to lower triglycerides, published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine, is generating some excitement among cardiologists. What are triglycerides? Triglycerides are a type of fat that circulates in the bloodstream. After you eat a snack or meal, your body breaks down the fats in the food, packages them with protein and cholesterol, and dumps them into the bloodstream. After an especially fatty meal, triglycerides can be so abundant that they give the blood a milky tint. Within a few hours after a meal, triglycerides have mostly cleared out of the bloodstream. The American Heart Association sets out four main categories of triglyceride levels: healthy: below 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL high: 200 to 499 mg/dL very high: 500 mg/dL and above. “High” or “very high” levels of triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. When the triglyceride level nears 1,000 mg/dL, individuals can develop pancreatitis, a serious inflammation of the pancreas, in addition to heart dis...
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