6 Medications That Can Cause High Triglycerides
Though they don’t factor in to your total cholesterol level, blood fats called triglycerides still have an impact on your health. Extremely high triglycerides—500 mg/dL or higher—can put you at risk for pancreatitis. This inflammation of the pancreas gland can cause stomach pain, digestive problems, and, eventually, diabetes.
Almost one-third of American adults have high triglycerides. Obesity, family history, excess alcohol consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle often play a role. But certain medications for other health conditions also can influence your triglyceride level. If you take one of these drugs, ask your health care provider how often you should have a lipid panel. This measures your triglycerides and your cholesterol. Always talk with your health care provider before stopping or starting any medication.
High blood pressure also increases your risk for heart disease. If you can’t control your numbers through lifestyle changes, your health care provider may recommend treatment with medications called thiazide diuretics (commonly called “water pills”) or beta-blockers.
The term may bring to mind athletes and performance-enhancing supplements. But these strong drugs aren’t the same as body-builders’ steroids. In fact, they bear a greater similarity to hormones produced by your body’s adrenal glands. Corticosteriods treat a wide range of health problems, including asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, eczema and other skin conditions, and certain types of cancer.
Though they were developed to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other severe forms of mental illness, health care providers now prescribe these drugs to children and adults for a wide range of psychological complaints. These range from autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to conduct disorder and Tourette’s syndrome.
Newer antipsychotics—including aripiprazole (Abilify), olanzapine (Zyprexa) quetiapine (Seroquel), and risperidone (Risperdal)—may raise triglyceride levels. However, first-generation antipsychotics, such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine) and haloperidol (Haldol), don’t have this effect.
This potent drug helps treat severe acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments, such as antibiotics. Health care providers also use it to treat other skin conditions and some types of cancer. Because isotretinoin also causes severe birth defects, women who use it must also use two forms of birth control and check in with their health care providers every month.
Drug cocktails known as antiretroviral therapy have transformed HIV from a frequently fatal disease to a chronic condition. Because of the triglyceride-boosting effects of antiretrovirals, people with HIV often must take cholesterol-lowering statins as well. Some studies suggest omega-3 fatty acid supplements may have similar benefits.
As women enter menopause, their bodies produce less of the female hormone estrogen. Some choose to take supplemental estrogen to control symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes. Besides raising triglycerides, estrogen has several other serious side effects, including an increased risk for blood clots and strokes. For these reasons, doctors recommend women take hormone therapy at the lowest dose possible for the least amount of time necessary to relieve their symptoms.
Almost one-third of American adults have high triglycerides, which can be harmful to your health.
Certain medications can influence your triglyceride levels. These include some blood pressure medicines, corticosteroids, antipsychotics, isotretinoin, HIV treatments, and estrogen.
- Always talk with your health care provider before starting or stopping any medications.