Medication for Triglycerides: Prescription Drugs and Their Healthier Alternatives
Medically Reviewed by Vincenta Faulkner, RD, CNSC, CCTD
Elevated triglyceride levels, which often go hand-in-hand with elevated LDL cholesterol levels, can put you at an increased risk of heart disease.
If you have elevated triglyceride levels, you probably want the quickest, easiest way to lower your levels. At the same time, you want to do so in a healthy way and likely want as natural a process as possible.
Prescription drugs are one way to target elevated triglyceride levels, but diet and lifestyle changes paired with natural supplements for healthy blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels may be enough to make impactful changes to your lipid panel results before triglyceride medications are ever a necessity.
Let’s explore these options more with Zizi.
What Are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat that circulates in your bloodstream. Your body naturally produces triglycerides and uses them as energy.
You also intake triglycerides from the foods that you eat. When you consume foods, your body breaks them down into triglycerides, extracts whatever immediate energy it needs, and stores the remaining triglycerides in your fat cells.
When Do Triglycerides Become a Risk Factor?
If you have too many triglycerides in your bloodstream, this elevated level puts you at risk for heart disease. In general, triglyceride levels that are 200 mg/dL or higher in adults are high levels that you should aim to lower to improve your heart health and decrease your risk for a heart attack.
If your levels are between 151-199 mg/dL, you may have borderline high triglyceride levels, and if your levels are under 150 mg/dL, you may have a healthy and normal amount of triglycerides in your bloodstream.
You should talk to your doctor or your healthcare professional about your unique triglyceride levels.
Certain people have unique levels that might fall within the normal range yet still be high, or might fall within the high range yet not pose as much of a risk. This is because there are many factors at play when it comes to a person’s triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
What Are Some Popular Triglyceride Medications and Supplements?
There are currently four primary medications that help to treat high triglyceride levels. These classes include niacin, fibric acid derivatives (fibrates), omega-3 fatty acids, and statins. Let’s take a closer look at each below.
Niacin, also known as Vitamin B3, comes in prescription drug form as Nicotinic acid to treat elevated triglyceride levels. It also supports healthy LDL, total cholesterol levels, and HDL cholesterol levels.
You might take niacin if you have high triglycerides or high cholesterol but have not had luck controlling your levels through diet, exercise, or statin medications.
Although Niacin can lower triglyceride levels and raise HDL cholesterol levels, no study results show that Niacin prescription treatments reduce an individual's heart attack rate.
As long as you take the appropriate level that your doctor prescribes, you will likely not experience side effects. However, with higher doses, you might experience unfavorable side effects, including severe skin flushing and dizziness, as well as itching, muscle pain, and an upset stomach.
Fibric Acid Derivatives (Fibrates)
Fibrates are a class of drug that reduces triglyceride blood levels by blocking triglyceride synthesis in the liver.
Fibrates can also increase HDL cholesterol levels and reduce LDL cholesterol levels. While doctors often prescribe Niacin or statins to specifically treat cholesterol levels, doctors often specifically prescribe fibrates to lower triglyceride levels.
More generic names you might see for fibrates include fenofibrate or gemfibrozil. However, similar to Niacin, fibrate does not always decrease your risk for heart attack, even if it does lower your triglyceride levels.
Fibrates might cause muscle toxicity, but this is more common if you take fibrates in conjunction with statins.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are other prescription drug options to lower triglyceride levels.
Drugs that contain EPA alone or an EPA and DHA combination may help reduce very high triglyceride levels.
However, there are caveats.
EPA or EPA and DHA combination prescription medications generally do not affect total cholesterol levels or HDL cholesterol levels, and in larger doses, omega-3 fatty acid medications containing a combination of EPA and DHA might increase LDL cholesterol levels.
There are very few side effects for omega-3 fatty acids.
Doctors primarily prescribe statins to lower LDL cholesterol levels and raise HDL cholesterol levels.
Statins may also treat elevated triglyceride levels, particularly if you take these drugs in higher dosages. Different statins to target triglycerides include simvastatin, atorvastatin, and rosuvastatin.
A common side effect of statins is muscle pain or soreness; these drugs sometimes make your muscles feel weak, tender, or even achy.
How Do I Know If I Need To Start Taking Triglyceride Medications?
Your doctor will recommend or prescribe triglyceride medications if your levels are high and your diet and exercise habits or lifestyle changes alone have not proved adequate in lowering your elevated levels.
Your doctor might prescribe triglyceride medications, even if your levels are within normal limits, if you are at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as due to family history.
What About Natural Supplement Options?
Natural supplements may also lower cholesterol. Common natural supplements that may help lower elevated levels include fish oil, psyllium, Coenzyme Q10, and soy supplements.
In addition to omega-3 fatty acid prescription medications, there are also over-the-counter fish oil supplements that help lower triglyceride levels. You can take these natural supplements, in addition to consuming non-fried fatty fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, or sardines, to target both high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels.
Psyllium is a fiber that comes from an herb. Supplements with psyllium can help address high triglycerides, as well as high cholesterol and blood sugar. You can find these supplements in powder, capsule, or even husk form!
A side effect you might experience is constipation if you do not stay hydrated while taking this supplement.
This compound comes from animal or bacteria mitochondria and helps produce ATP for cellular energy and process. As a supplement, the Coenzyme Q10 compound may help support healthy triglyceride levels.
Soy is one of Zizi’s top foods to lower triglyceride levels, so if you’re still eating a healthy diet yet struggling with high triglyceride levels, try soy supplements to help lower your levels.
What Are Some Natural Lifestyle Changes I Can Make To Lower Triglyceride Levels?
The best lifestyle changes you can make to target your elevated triglyceride levels, regardless of whether you are taking medications, supplements, both, or neither, involve simple diet and physical activity changes.
When it comes to your diet, you can make your diet triglyceride friendly by including a lot of whole grains, healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, fruits, vegetables, and whole carbohydrates that are not processed or refined. You may want to avoid saturated or trans fats, processed and refined carbohydrates, and sugary foods and beverages.
When it comes to physical activity, you should try to stay as active as you can; try to exercise at least two to three times a week, for thirty minutes at a time each session.
Go the Natural, Healthier Route With Zizi
If your triglyceride levels are high, we always recommend that you try diet and lifestyle changes first, including a triglyceride-friendly diet and increased physical activity levels.
However, if these diet and lifestyle changes are not affecting your levels, it may be time to switch to supplements or medication.
If you are doing all the right things regarding diet and lifestyle, and have tried supplements yet still see no improvements, then it’s probably time to talk to your doctor about going on triglyceride-lowering medications.
You should also monitor your triglyceride levels monthly throughout this process so that you can track your progress. Achieve lasting, sustainable results when it comes to lowering your cholesterol levels with Zizi — at Zizi, heart health comes easy and from the comfort of your own home.
Learn more about lowering your cholesterol in 30 days with Zizi’s Heart Health Reset program here, or your money back.
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Fibrates | MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
Triglyceride Lowering Drugs | NCBI Bookshelf
Satiety effects of psyllium in healthy volunteers | ScienceDirect
A promising new treatment for high triglycerides | Harvard Health
Prescription omega-3 medications work for high triglycerides, advisory says | American Heart Association
High Blood Triglycerides | NHLBI, NIH