Isotretinoin, most commonly known as Accutane, is a common prescription drug. Its use is the treatment of severe acne. But can Accutane increase your triglycerides?
Those using Accutane find themselves with skin improvements, helping their image and quality of life. However, Accutane, like other medications, does not come without side effects. The most critical side effect is teratogenicity and severe birth defects. Therefore, females of childbearing age must have two negative pregnancy tests before a physician gives the medication. Additionally, females also must take a pregnancy test during treatment to receive additional prescription refills.
Other common side effects of Accutane include:
- dry skin and lips
- vision problems
- bone or joint pain
In addition to common the side effects, Accutane often comes with additional problems. While less frequent, those with a personal or family history of heart disease or stroke need to be aware Accutane can negatively impact cholesterol and triglycerides.
What are Triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood. They are used to store calories that are not used and to provide your body with energy. Naturally, triglycerides are found in foods such as vegetable oils and animal fats. They can also be made in your liver.
After you eat a meal, any excess calories your body stores as triglycerides in your fat cells. Hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. After a few hours, in a healthy person, triglycerides in the blood will be utilized.
While you need triglycerides, too many put you at risk for certain diseases. Having high triglycerides increases your risk for:
- heart disease
- metabolic syndrome
Accutane and Triglycerides
Accutane is in the class of retinoid medications. Retinoids increase apolipoproteins in the body. What are apolipoproteins? Apolipoproteins carry fat in the blood and control the lipoprotein molecule’s metabolism.
Studies have shown that within two weeks to 15 months of starting Accutane, some patients found an increase in triglycerides. Researchers found that the number of patients seeing increases in triglycerides range between 5-25%. This means that out of 100 people taking Accutane, 2-25 of those patients will see an increase in triglycerides.
People who saw a higher increase tended to have elevated triglycerides before beginning treatment with Accutane. Another risk factor is weight. Females weighing greater than 160 pounds and males weighing greater than 196 pounds saw more elevations in triglycerides than people who weighed less.
If You’re Taking Accutane, Follow these Tips to Reduce your Triglycerides
All people need to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep triglyceride levels healthy. However, if you take Accutane, you must work with your doctor to monitor triglycerides. You should also take steps to maintain healthy levels.
Eat Foods High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids helps reduce triglyceride levels.
- Try to consume fish at least two times per week. Fish highest in omega-3s are Mackerel, Salmon, Herring, and Sardines.
- Other significant sources of omega-3s include nuts, seeds, and plant oils such as flaxseed, canola oil, and soybean.
Eat a Healthy Diet
- Avoid trans fats. These are in fried foods, some kinds of margarine, shortenings, and certain convenience foods.
- Aim for 25-30 grams of fiber each day. Accomplish this by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal and choosing 100% whole-grain products.
- Limit foods with added sugar, such as pastries, candy, sports drinks, and sodas.
Get your Body Moving
Exercise is very effective in reducing triglycerides for those with elevated levels. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. Break up the sessions however best fits your schedule!
Moderate drinking is okay, but higher intake can increase triglyceride levels. Limit yourself to 1 drink/day for women and two drinks/day for men.
Maintain a Health Weight
If you’re overweight, a 5-10% reduction can decrease triglycerides.
What are Healthy Triglyceride Numbers?
Medications often come with side effects. Work with your doctor on any concerns you have regarding triglycerides and Accutane. Your doctor may order lab tests to monitor your triglycerides if you are high risk. Below are what your fasting triglyceride numbers mean.
The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recommend those with levels higher than 500 be evaluated for secondary causes such as genetics, excessive alcohol, or diabetes.
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