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Triglycerides - VLDL and Chylomicrons

Triglycerides have a composition of three fatty acids. Just like cholesterol, triglycerides enter the body in two ways - they are either produced by the liver or they are absorbed into the bloodstream through the diet. Also, just like cholesterol it can only distribute blood by combining with lipoproteins and it cannot be dissolved. Therefore, after eating, cholesterol and triglycerides are absorbed into the intestines and are packed into a number of circular particles known as chylomicrons before they are released into the bloodstream.

A triglyceride and cholesterol collection surrounded by an outer layer of lipoprotein is called a chylomicron. (Chlymicrons have a chemical composition of 10 percent cholesterol and 90 percent triglycerides). The liver removes chylomicrons and triglycerides from the bloodstream and synthesizes and binds them to VLDL or lipoprotein particles of very low density and releases them back into the bloodstream.

Levels of triglycerides and atherosclerosis

The subject while atherosclerosis and heart attack is dominated by high levels of controversial triglycerides in the blood. Today, most doctors believe that the risk factor for atherosclerosis is actually a very high triglyceride level, so it is difficult to prove that atherosclerosis is caused by high levels of triglycerides. However, it is acknowledged that increased levels of triglycerides are often associated with conditions that increase the risk of atherosclerosis, such as obesity, low HDL cholesterol, dense LDL cholesterol particles, poorly controlled diabetes and insulin resistance.

Causes of high triglyceride levels

Abnormal levels of triglycerides or hypertriglyceridemia may in some cases be inherited. Inherited cases of hypertriglyceridemia produce disorders such as mixed hypertriglyceridemia, familial hypertriglyceridemia, and family dysbetalipoproteinemia. However, non-genetic factors such as kidney disease, estrogen-containing drugs (such as birth control pills), diabetes, and excessive alcohol intake can cause hypertriglyceridemia.

Treats high blood triglyceride levels

Low fat diets with regular aerobic exercise, overweight, reduced alcohol use, smoking cessation and limited amounts of sugar are the first steps in treating hypertriglyceridemia. Also, in patients with diabetes mellitus (type II diabetes) high blood sugar control is also very important.

In some cases, medication may be needed. Fibrates (Lopids), nicotine acids and statins can be prescribed in some cases. Lopids increase HDL levels and LDL cholesterol particle size, and also reduce triglyceride levels. Nicotinic acid increases LDL cholesterol particle size, increases HDL cholesterol levels, decreases Lp (a) cholesterol levels and decreases triglyceride levels.


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