Triglycerides may be blood fat to watch: studies

Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:51pm EST
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - For people keeping track of their blood fats, triglycerides may be the new lipid to watch, researchers said on Tuesday.

A study earlier this week found that the percentage of U.S. adults with high triglycerides had doubled over the past three decades, likely driven by climbing obesity rates.

In another study, the largest yet, Danish researchers reported on Tuesday that a blood test that does not require fasting showed a strong link between high triglyceride levels and the risk of stroke caused by a blood clot.

Taken together, the studies suggest the need for better management of triglycerides, a blood fat that typically has played second fiddle to low-density lipoprotein or LDL, known as the "bad" cholesterol because of its role in causing heart attacks and strokes.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins help reduce LDL, but they often do not address high triglycerides, a blood fat derived from the fats people eat and fats in the body. Triglycerides are an independent risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.

Triglycerides and other lipids are typically measured after an eight- to 12-hour fast.

In the Danish study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Borge Nordestgaard of Copenhagen University Hospital studied levels of nonfasting triglycerides to see how well they could predict stroke risk.

The study followed nearly 14,000 people in Copenhagen for 31 years and found a clear correlation between higher levels of triglycerides and stroke.   Continued...