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Triglyceride Levels Important In Monitoring Heart Disease Risk

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RALEIGH, N.C. — When Marjorie Denham visits patients at the Rex Heart Center, the volunteer does not have to look at her notes. She knows the information she shares by "heart."

Denham has had two bypass surgeries, the most recent in 1996. At that time, she knew her cholesterol was high, but had no idea her triglyceride levels were also in the danger zone.

When it comes to heart disease risk, knowing your triglyceride level is just as important as knowing your cholesterol level.

"It's very important when a person goes to see their physician that they get a cholesterol check, but that they check their triglycerides as well," said Rebecca Hudson, who educates heart patients at the heart center.

Triglycerides are a fat-like substance found in the bloodstream. High levels of triglycerides can build up in arteries causing blockage.

  • A normal level is anything under 150.
  • A level of 150 to 200 is considered borderline. Doctors usually recommend a lowfat diet and exercise.
  • A level above 200 is high and may require medication.
  • A combination therapy is working for Denham. Her triglyceride level is 56 -- well within normal range.

    She shares her success story with the patients she visits.

    "I think it's reassuring that we can tell them that this too shall pass," Denham said.

    She said she hopes more people will take care of their hearts and never go through what she did.

    For people with normal triglyceride levels, it is still important to eat a healthy diet that is low in saturated fats. Exercise also helps keep levels under control.

    The most important thing is to get tested regularly with a blood test.


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