ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Traditional Chinese Therapy May Help Ease Eczema
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Too Few Screened for Abdominal Aneurysm, Study Says
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
CANCER
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Doctors Urged to Screen Diabetics for Sleep Apnea
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
DIET, NUTRITION
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
EYE CARE, VISION
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
FITNESS
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Vitamin D and Bone Health: Are You Getting Enough of This Important Vitamin?
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
A Little Alcohol May Help the Heart: Studies
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Drink Away Dementia?
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Keeping a Healthy Holiday Balance
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Smoking Ups Risk of Second Breast Cancer
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
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High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans

MONDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Many Americans have higher-than-recommended levels of the blood fats called triglycerides, and most aren't making the lifestyle changes necessary to bring those levels down, a study finds.

"Clearly, the focus in this country has been on cholesterol levels," said Dr. Earl S. Ford, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lead author of a report in the March 23 Archives of Internal Medicine. "But there are a fair number of studies that suggest that triglycerides have a role in cardiovascular disease."

While just about everyone knows about the link between cholesterol and heart disease, few Americans seem concerned about triglycerides, which are the most common kind of fats in the body -- and in food.

Triglyceride levels aren't nearly as big a concern as cholesterol levels. While the journal report states that, "increasing evidence supports triglyceride concentration as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease," the report also hedges that a bit, saying, "if triglycerides are indeed a risk factor."

Nonetheless, the National Cholesterol Education Program offers a list of recommendations about blood triglyceride levels: that they are best kept under 150 milligrams per deciliter; considered borderline high between 150 and 199 milligrams per deciliter; and deemed high at 200 or greater.

Data on 5,610 Americans in National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 1999 and 2004 found that 33.1 percent of them had borderline high triglyceride levels; 17.9 percent had readings of 200 or higher; 1.7 percent came in at 500 or higher; and 0.4 percent were at 1,000 or higher, the study found.

Use of three triglyceride-lowering drugs was limited, with 2.6 percent of those in the borderline high group and 3.6 percent of those in the 200-and-higher group taking them. The drugs -- gembifrozil, niacin and fenofibrate --are also prescribed to raise levels of HDL cholesterol, the "good" kind that helps prevent artery blockage.

That may be just as well, Ford said. "Unlike LDL cholesterol, where we have all kinds of trials showing the benefits of statins against cardiovascular disease, there is not as strong a database for triglycerides," he said. "Until we get stronger evidence of benefit, drug treatment of triglycerides remains a little uncertain. Whether taking these drugs will reduce cardiovascular disease is unclear."

So the recommended treatment for elevated triglyceride levels is the kind of lifestyle recommended for high cholesterol levels, Ford said. Indeed, survey participants with high triglyceride levels tended to be overweight, inactive and smoke.

Losing weight, getting exercise, eating low-fat foods and giving up smoking apply to triglycerides as well, Ford said. An additional recommendation is to reduce consumption of alcohol, which promotes triglyceride production by the liver.

Dr. Stephen Nicholls, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, believes that triglycerides may deserve more scrutiny by physicians. "Many doctors are not sure about how aggressive they should be in treating elevated triglycerides," he said. "There are always other issues, such as obesity and smoking, involved. But we are understanding more and more that looking after triglycerides is important in providing heart care. If you look at large populations, those with high levels of triglycerides always do worse."

-Ed Edelson

More information

For more on triglycerides and what should be done about them, visit the American Heart Association.



SOURCES: Earl S. Ford, M.D., MPH, medical officer, U.S. Public Health Service, Atlanta; Stephen Nicholls M.D., Ph.D, cardiologist, Cleveland Clinic; March 23, 2009, Archives of Internal Medicine

Last Updated: March 23, 2009

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