Heart & Vascular Program

Heart Health

Risk Factors: Cholesterol and Triglycerides

High blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase the risk of developing heart disease. Research shows that lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels can reduce the chance of developing heart disease, having recurrent heart attacks or blocking arteries.

Triglycerides are another fat in your blood that can increase the risk of heart disease. High triglycerides often arise with low cholesterol, diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance and being overweight, especially in the abdominal area. Triglyceride levels should be kept low if you have heart disease, peripheral vascular disease or diabetes.

If any of the following apply to you, ask your doctor to check your fasting lipid profile, which includes total cholesterol and triglyceride levels:

  • men over the age of 40
  • women over the age of 50
  • two or more other risk factors of heart disease
  • history of heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, or stroke
  • diabetes
  • family history of heart disease

Conditions that may cause high cholesterol or triglyceride levels include:

  • hypothyroidism
  • kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • excess alcohol
  • certain medications

Cholesterol levels may be lowered during recent illness, weight loss, or a recent heart attack. These levels are not useful for treating high cholesterol and should be repeated at a later time.