Metformin, also known as glucophage, is a prescription drug normally used to help lower blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetics, by decreasing glucose absorption in the intestines and improving your cells' insulin sensitivity, DrugLib.com explains. It is also used as a weight loss aid in diabetic and non-diabetic individuals. Studies show that metformin may help lower high triglycerides, a part of your cholesterol profile.
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Cholesterol is a fat found only in meat, including shellfish, and dairy products, and is produced naturally in your liver. There is no cholesterol in plant-based foods. Cholesterol is a waxy substance and is needed for cell building and hormone production. It is carried through your blood in fats, or lipids, by proteins called lipoproteins. When you have your cholesterol tested, it shows the levels of two types of lipoproteins -- LDL or low-density, and HDL or high-density. LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, carries the fat through your body, and HDL, "good" cholesterol, clears it out of your body. A total cholesterol reading of over 240 mg/dL is considered high. Your triglyceride level refers to a second type of fat, or lipid, also measured during a cholesterol, or lipid, panel.
Causes of High Triglycerides
Triglyceride levels measure the circulating fat in your blood. After a meal, your triglyceride level is high prior to being used by your cells for energy or being stored as fat. Weight gain may be a cause of high triglycerides, although thin people may also have high levels. Other causes may include increased alcohol and sugar consumption, age, medications such as birth control pills, diuretics and steroids, and conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease. You may also inherit the propensity for high triglycerides. Excessive levels of triglycerides may damage your heart and other organs. Readings of over 150 mg/dL are considered high.
Metformin for High Triglyceride Levels
In studies cited by DrugLib.com, taking metformin on its own, or in conjunction with a sulfonylurea, anti-diabetic drugs, shows decreases of up to 16 percent in triglyceride levels. Metformin is normally taken 500 mg twice per day, with meals, and may be increased up to 2,000 mg per day. Metformin also comes in extended-release tablets that are taken once per day. Metformin is seldom prescribed solely for decreasing triglyceride levels, but may have a lowering effect when taken for other conditions.
Side Effects of Metformin
Allergic reactions to Metformin may occur and include the appearance of hives, swelling of the throat, face and tongue and difficulty breathing. A serious condition called lactic acidosis may occur slowly and become worse over time. Side effects may include muscle weakness, dizziness, numbness or cold in your hands or arms and legs, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, slow heart rate, rapid weight gain and flu-like symptoms, such as fever and chills. Medical attention should be sought immediately for all side effects.