Triglycerides are a type of fat your body produces to store extra calories that you consume during the day. When you get your cholesterol levels tested, most doctors also test triglyceride levels, since high levels of these fats also increase your risk for heart disease. Many of the treatments for cholesterol also lower your triglycerides.
Statins and Triglycerides
Statins are one of three types of drugs that help to lower your triglycerides. They are more effective than niacin, but less effective than fibrates for this purpose, according to Florida State University. They work best for people who also need to lower their low density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol levels and those who have only mildly elevated triglyceride levels.
Types of Statins
Some statins are more effective than others for treating high cholesterol and high triglycerides. Options include atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pitavastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin, as well as a few combination options that include either two cholesterol lowering drugs or cholesterol and blood pressure medication combined. The statins that work best at lowering LDL cholesterol also work best for lowering triglycerides, according to a 1998 article published in the "American Journal of Cardiology."
Other Ways to Lower Triglycerices
Diet and lifestyle changes can lower triglycerides enough so you either don't need to take medications like statins, or you can take a lower dose. Losing weight, exercising regularly, choosing monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fats, and limiting alcohol, sugars, calories, cholesterol and trans fats all help to lower triglyceride levels. Taking fish oil or omega-3 supplements may also lower your triglycerides.
Statins can vary considerably in price. Your doctor will make the decision which drug to prescribe, as you may need to take a certain statin based on other health conditions you have. However, if you need to lower your LDL cholesterol by less than 30 percent, Consumer Reports recommends either generic pravastatin or generic lovastatin. For lowering LDL cholesterol more than 30 percent, they recommend generic simvastatin, and for those with highly elevated LDL and acute coronary syndrome, they recommend atorvastatin. You can check with your doctor to see if changing to one of these options makes sense for you if you are on a different statin and need a more affordable option.
- MayoClinic.com; Triglycerides: Why Do They Matter?; June 17, 2010
- "American Journal of Cardiology"; Comparison of Statins in Hypertriglyceridemia; E.A. Stein, et al.; Feb. 26, 1998
- Consumer Reports Health.org; Evaluating Statin Drugs to Treat: High Cholesterol and Heart Disease; June 2010
- Thagard Student Health Center, Florida State University; Medications for High Triglycerides; Phillip Treadwell, Pharm.D.