Triglycerides and heart disease

A report published in The Lancet medical journal this month indicates that triglycerides may be a contributing factor in the incidence of heart disease.  While this is not a new concept, the study confirmed that an increased risk factor is related to the apolipoprotein A5 gene, which determines the level of triglycerides in the blood.

People with extra copies of this gene had as much as a 40% higher risk of developing heart disease, according to researchers’ calculations.  The findings were based on data from more than 300,000 participants in 101 different tests.

Cholesterol and triglycerides are two separate forms of fat.  The body uses cholesterol to build cells and it uses triglycerides to provide energy.  In recent years the medical profession has concentrated on reducing levels of ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol and increasing those of ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol, but it seems that we need to be concerned about levels of triglycerides also.

Triglycerides are produced by the liver and also derived from certain foods.  The same foods that contribute to LDL cholesterol also raise the level of triglycerides.

Nadeem Sarwar, lead researcher in this study, emphasized the need for more extensive and specific research.  Other medical professionals agree that further testing is required before any definitive correlation can be made.

However, there is general agreement that the information presented by Sarwar and his team, though far from definitive, will certainly lead to more research to determine whether lowering triglycerides can help prevent heart disease, and to what degree.  In the meantime, exercise and a healthy diet are still the best means of preventing or at least mitigating the problem.