High Triglycerides: Treatment

High triglycerides (trigs) are a warning that you need to take better care of your health. Knowing your trig levels can help you set goals to lower your trigs and improve your everyday life. Here's how:

Lose weight. Cut calories and try to get as close as possible to the weight your doctor suggests.

Control high blood pressure. Adjust your diet, reduce salt intake and take the medicine prescribed by your doctor.

Reduce alcohol consumption. Eliminate it if you can, as alcohol raises trig levels, adds unnecessary calories and weakens your resolve to avoid calorie and salt-laden foods.

Exercise. Try to fit in about 30 minutes a day of daily aerobic exercise at least five days a week.

Quit smoking. Smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you need help quitting, ask your PCP.

Eat well. Enjoy more fruits and vegetables; most medical associations recommend five servings per day. Learn what foods are good for your heart.

Cut the fat. Reduce the amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol in your diet.

Medication. There are numerous drugs that target lipids. Statins are among the most widely prescribed drugs. They can lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol substantially and your trig level modestly. Other drugs called fibrates can lower trig levels substantially. Your doctor may also recommend a prescription-grade of fish oil. Lowering your lipids can reduce your risk for heart attack.

Check with your doctor. Make sure your medications, such as diuretics or estrogen therapy, are not raising your trig levels.

Nutritional supplements. In addition to lifestyle changes and prescribed medications, some nutritional supplements—such as fish oil, garlic and niacin—may lower your trig levels. While these are sold over-the-counter in lower doses, your doctor may prescribe prescription strength products.

Control diabetes. If you have diabetes, take your medication and check your blood sugar levels as directed by your doctor.

Remember, regular checkups are your chance to let your doctor know how you are doing with your efforts to lower your trigs. Be open and honest about any frustration that you may be experiencing. Your doctor may be able to recommend a local support group to help you lose weight or reduce your alcohol consumption, or offer tips on how to get your daily exercise.

Follow instructions whenever your doctor prescribes medication or recommends lifestyle changes as part of your treatment plan. Take your medications regularly and be sure to report promptly any side effects you may experience.