This tongue twister of a term is a combination of a couple of basic words. “Hyper-” is used when there’s an excess of something. A “triglyceride” is a fundamental fat molecule. “-emia” refers to the presence of something in the blood. Put them together, and you have a lot of fat in your veins. This presentation will show you how this happens and where it all goes wrong.
What is Hypertriglyceridemia?
Hypertriglyceridemia refers to an elevated level of triglycerides in the blood. The baseline for moderate hypertriglyceridemia is a fasted triglyceride level greater than 150 mg/Dl (milligrams of triglyceride per deciliter of blood).
What are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat that consists of one glycerol bound to three fatty acids. It’s the most common type of fat in the human body. You can get triglycerides from your diet by digesting fatty foods, or they can be synthesized by your liver. Triglycerides circulate through your bloodstream, where they travel to muscle cells, broken down by an enzyme called hormone-sensitive lipase, and used for energy. They can also travel to fat cells called adipocytes, where the triglycerides are stored for future use.
The Triglyceride Factory
Most of the triglycerides in your blood come from the fat you eat. These dietary fats are absorbed by enterocytes. “Entero” refers to the intestines, and “cyte” refers to a cell. Therefore, enterocytes are cells that line the intestines of the digestive tract. They ingest fat through a process of “pinocytosis,” or ‘cellular drinking,’ which is when an extracellular substance is taken in through pores and surrounded by the cell membrane. This forms a fat-containing bubble, broken down by merging with balls of digestive enzymes called lysosomes. After this process, we’re left with a neatly packaged ball of triglycerides. They’re now ready to be excreted so that they can circulate in the body as very low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs) or chylomicrons, depending on the size of the package.
When Things go Wrong
Triglycerides play an essential role in keeping us healthy. They give us energy, and when we have more than we need, it’s conveniently stored so we can use it later. In addition to storing energy for future use, our fat cells protect us from the environment by insulating us from extremes of temperature and blunt force trauma. Fat is a very good thing, but sometimes we can have too much of a good thing. When we eat too much fat, we saturate our blood with triglycerides. Over time this can cause a deadly cascade of diseases that wreak havoc on our bodies. Fat, for example, can enter a dangerous cycle of rapid growth and division. Like cancer, they can grow continuously without any respect for their neighbors. We call it visceral fat when it begins to creep in between our organs. In these conditions, the liver tends to become saturated with fat, a disease called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disorder (NAFLD) or hepatic steatosis. ”Hepat” refers to the liver, and “steatosis” refers to fat infiltration. Without intervention, the condition of the liver will gradually deteriorate as hepatic cells begin to die. This is called cirrhosis, and it is fatal without a timely and successful transplant. The cardiovascular system is also a typical victim of hypertriglyceridemia. As the blood is saturated with triglycerides, they tend to deposit themselves onto the walls of the circulatory system. These deposits can harden and form plaque. As the tubes become narrower, blood pressure begins to rise. Eventually, they may rupture or become clogged. This most noticeably damages the heart and the brain, organs that cannot survive without a constant supply of oxygen from the blood. It is called an ischemic stroke if blood is cut off from the brain due to a blockage from clotting or plaque. It is called a hemorrhagic stroke if blood is prevented from reaching the brain due to a rupture. This is a highly traumatic condition because the cells within the brain begin to die immediately when cut off from the cardiovascular system. These cells are called neurons, and they do not regrow. The damage is permanent. Likewise, when an artery within the heart is blocked, we refer to the condition as a myocardial infarction, commonly called a heart attack. Heart cells immediately begin to die under these conditions, and like their cousins in the brain, they cannot recover. Even when these attacks are not fatal, the organs are permanently damaged. In time, non- functional scar tissue replaces the dead cells.
July 27, 2022 — 12:24 pm
Quite frankly, I have never heard of the term “Hypertriglyceridemia” before today. As I was reading your poster, it became clear to me what the condition is and how it is presented in patients that have this disease. You did an amazing job of defining the term, explaining each component that contributes to diagnosis, and how it can have a tremendous effect on the body. The graphics that were provided also paint an appropriate picture that helps the reader understand what is going on at a molecular level. You really hit the mark and provided the reader with credible information.
July 29, 2022 — 12:24 pm
Hello! This project specifically caught my eye since I have never heard of the word Hypertriglyceridemia. I have heard of triglyceride, but that’s it. It was interesting to read through your project to learn more about this subject. Overall I feel like you are extremely knowledgeable on the topic and the presentation was very through and well thought out. I also like all the images you chose. I am one to learn by seeing, so that was a really engaging part for me while reading though your presentation.
July 29, 2022 — 10:40 pm
Hello! I really like your sharing of triglycerides. I remember I saw my father go to the hospital for a physical examination, and the examination report showed that his triglyceride was too high. He was distressed by this matter for a long time. Actually, I didn’t know what harm it did. But according to your sharing, I know the danger of triglyceride accumulation in blood vessels.
July 29, 2022 — 10:50 pm
Hello Mitchell. I have never heard the term Hypertriglyceridemia, but knew that elevated levels of triglycerides is bad. Triglycerides can be pretty dangerous as too much can cause heart conditions. Having too much fat in the blood makes filtration of blood longer and can cause circulation problems. You did a great job on explaining what triglycerides are, how they work, and what can go bad if there’s too much. I also never heard of NAFLD, so reading about it was interesting.