Firstly we have to say that elevated triglycerides may be a consequence of other disease, such as untreated diabetes mellitus or nephritic syndrome or chronic renal failure. Other reasons for higher triglyceride levels tend to be, hypothyroidism, liver disease, overeating, obesity, excessive consumption of alcohol as well as rare genetic problems that impact body fat metabolism. Particular medications can also be implicated like, contraception pills, beta blockers, steroids, isotretinoin, protease inhibitors and diuretics as well as tamoxifen can all contribute to signs of enhanced elevation of triglycerides in your body.
High levels of triglycerides are strongly associated with the risk of stroke and heart disease especially in women. In a study involving postmenopausal women (aged 48 to 76 years old) conducted by a research group from the Center for Clinical and Basic Research in Ballerup, Denmark, it was found that women who had an enlarged waist and elevated levels of triglycerides had almost a five-fold increased risk of fatal cardiovascular events compared to women without those traits. The women at risk deposited fat centrally in their intra-abdominal compartment, rather than in their hips, thighs, and buttocks.
If we look at both sexes researchers accounted for other risk factors for strokes, people with more than 200 mg of triglycerides per dl of blood were nearly 30% more likely to have an ischemic stroke or TIA than people with lower levels of triglycerides.
Ischemic strokes, which occur when a blood clot or narrowed artery cuts off the brain’s blood supply, account for about 80% of all strokes. The other 20% of strokes are caused by a rupture in blood vessels in the brain. High triglycerides and the low levels of HDL – the ‘good’ – cholesterol which usually co-exist are important risk factors for the main type of stroke – ischemic strokes – among patients with heart disease.
It is important to note that triglycerides are only really accurately measured after an 8 to 12 hour fast.
It is believed that the triglycerides/HDL ratio is one of the most potent predictors of heart disease. And that it is generally considered that if this number is below 2 the person is at a low risk of heart disease. So, the lower your triglycerides, or the higher your HDL, the smaller this ratio becomes.