Walter's triglycerides were 231 mg. His LDL cholesterol was "favorable" at 111 mg, HDL likewise at 49 mg.
"Everything looks good," his doctor declared.
"Do you think the triglycerides are okay, too?" Walter asked.
"Well, the guidelines do say that triglycerides should be less than 150, but I believe you're close enough. Anyway, triglycerides don't really cause heart disease."
When I met Walter, I made several comments. First of all, in light of his heart scan score of 713, none of his numbers--HDL, LDL, or triglycerides-- were acceptable. But the triglycerides were glaringly and terribly too high.
Why? What exactly are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a basic fat particle that, though they do not cause heart disease directly, trigger the formation of an array of abnormal lipoprotein particles in the blood that are among the most potent causes of heart disease known.
These abnormal lipoprotein particles include small LDL, VLDL, and IDL (intermediate-density lipoprotein--a really bad pattern). Excess triglycerides also cause HDL to drop. They also cause a distortion of HDL structure, causing the particles to become abnormally small. Small HDL is also useless HDL, unable to provide the protection that HDL is designed to do.
So Walter's elevated triglycerides are, in reality, a substantial red flag for an entire panel of abnormal particles that contribute to the growth of his coronary plaque.
So, if you get this kind of commentary on your triglycerides, ask for another opinion. (Track Your Plaque Members: Also see Triglycerides: Mother of meddlesome particles at http://www.trackyourplaque.com/library/fl_dp002triglycerides.asp.)