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National Survey Shows Patients are Unaware of Serious Heart Risks of Triglycerides

Results of a national survey from the National Lipid Association (NLA) demonstrate that patients—including those at greatest risk—are woefully// unaware of the cardiovascular risks associated with unhealthy levels of triglycerides, a fat found in the blood. The Moving Beyond Cholesterol survey, which included 2,089 patients and 510 doctors, revealed that the overwhelming majority of physicians felt patients did not understand triglycerides and were not aware of the differences between triglycerides and cholesterol, or the independent risks unhealthy levels of triglycerides may pose to heart health.

Triglycerides are a type of fat (or lipid) found in the blood that is produced by the body and ingested from food. They are measured as part of a standard lipid blood test. Elevated triglycerides are linked to serious illnesses, including heart disease, kidney disease and pancreatitis. Nearly 9 out of 10 doctors surveyed agreed that they are an independent risk factor for heart disease, as outlined by the National Cholesterol Education Program. So-called “good,” or HDL cholesterol, and “bad,” or LDL cholesterol are other types of lipids. The risk is a widespread matter of concern, with 100 million Americans living with unhealthy lipid levels, according to the American Heart Association.

“These findings clearly show that we, as physicians, need to do a more thorough job of being sure our patients understand the cardiovascular risk of unhealthy lipid levels, including often-ignored triglycerides,” said Jerome D. Cohen, M.D., director of Preventive Cardiology Programs at St. Louis University Health Sciences Center and chairman of the National Lipid Association Consumer Affairs Committee. “A first step is for doctors to make sure they understand current guidelines, as those surveyed felt they were less familiar with triglyceride guidelines than with those for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ cholesterol.”

While 83 percent of physicians knew that national gui
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