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CNN Today

Triglyceride Level Connected to Heart Disease

Aired June 20, 2000 - 1:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In health news, if you've ever wondered how your health care measures up to that in other parts of the world, the World Health Organization can tell you. Based on factors such as healthy life expectancy, and how efficient and equal health systems are, the group found France has the best health care system in the world. Next, Italy, Singapore and Oman, the world's smallest republic, San Marino, a land-locked independent state within Italy, is fifth; life expectancy there is 81.

The United States, which spends more than any other country per person on health care, is 18th on that list.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Not too good, maybe we'll move up a notch or two if we all watch our cholesterol and now there's another number to keep an eye on to find out whether you're at risk for heart disease.

Our medical correspondent Dr. Steve Salvatore tells us the truth about triglycerides.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. STEVE SALVATORE, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When 33-year-old Paul Duncsak became a father nine weeks ago, he decided to make his health a priority.

PAUL DUNCSAK: I think I'm going to start a diet and an exercise regimen, and hopefully keep it up, since I've only been married a year.

SALVATORE: Paul is concerned about what doctor's call his lipid profile, what most people think of as their cholesterol levels. Part of that profile that doesn't get much attention, but probably should, is the level of triglycerides.

According to a new study published in the circulation "Journal of the American Heart Association," a family history of high triglycerides alone increases the risk of heart disease.

MELISSA AUSTIN, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: In the families in which we find only high triglycerides and not high cholesterol, we found that increased triglyceride levels predicted a two to threefold increase of cardiovascular disease death.

SALVATORE: And it may mean others with high triglycerides, without a family history, may also be at risk.

DR. DAVID VORCHHEIMER, MT. SINAI HOSPITAL: This study suggests that we need to be very aggressive with those patients as well, even if the other lipid parameters appear to be normal.

SALVATORE: With a new plan of diet and exercise, Paul may not need medication to bring his triglycerides into the normal range.

VORCHHEIMER: Of all the cholesterol parameters that we measure in the blood, triglycerides are the one that are most exquisitely sensitive to even the most modest reduction in weight.

SALVATORE (on camera): For most healthy people over the age of 40, doctors recommend you get your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked at least once a year, and be sure to get that sample drawn while on an empty stomach, after fasting, because food can falsely elevate your triglyceride levels.

Dr. Steve Salvatore, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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