ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
Using a Balloon to Repair a Broken Back
CANCER
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
CAREGIVING
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
DIET, NUTRITION
Mediterranean Diet Enriched With Nuts Cuts Heart Risks
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Radiation Exposure Linked to Aggressive Thyroid Cancers
Controversial Chemical Lingers Longer in the Body
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
FITNESS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Maximize Your Run
FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
When It Comes to Lifting, the Pros Have Your Back
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
MEN'S HEALTH
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
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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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