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Triglycerides Test

What is a Triglycerides Test?

A triglycerides test measures the amount of triglycerides in your blood. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your body. If you eat more calories than you need, the extra calories are changed into triglycerides. These triglycerides are stored in your fat cells for later use. When your body needs energy, triglycerides are released into your bloodstream to provide fuel for your muscles to work. If you eat more calories than you burn off, especially calories from carbohydrates and fats, you may get high triglyceride levels in your blood. High triglycerides may put you at greater risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Other names for a triglycerides test: TG, TRIG, lipid panel, fasting lipoprotein panel

What is it used for?

A triglycerides test is usually part of a lipid profile. Lipid is another word for fat. A lipid profile is a test that measures the level of fats in your blood, including triglycerides and cholesterol, a waxy, fatty substance found in every cell of your body. If you have high levels of both LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, you may be at an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Your health care provider may order a lipid profile as part of a routine exam or to diagnose or monitor heart conditions.

Why do I need a triglycerides test?

Healthy adults should get a lipid profile, which includes a triglycerides test, every four to six years. You may need to be tested more often if you have certain risk factors for heart disease. These include:

What happens during a triglycerides test?

A triglycerides test is a blood test. During the test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You may need to fast (not food or drink) for 9 to 12 hours before your blood is drawn. Your health care provider will let you know if you need to fast and if there are any special instructions to follow.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

Triglycerides are usually measured in milligrams (mg) of triglycerides per deciliter (dL) of blood. For adults, results are usually categorized as:

  • Normal/desirable triglyceride range: less than 150mg/dL
  • Borderline high triglyceride range: 150 to 199 mg/dL
  • High triglyceride range: 200 to 499 mg/dL
  • Very high triglyceride range: 500 mg/dL and above

Higher than normal triglyceride levels may put you at risk for heart disease. To reduce your levels and lower your risk, your health care provider may recommend lifestyle changes and/or prescribe medicines.

If your results were borderline high, your provider may recommend that you:

  • Lose weight
  • Eat a healthier diet
  • Get more exercise
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Take a cholesterol lowering medicine

If your results were high or very high, your provider may recommend the same lifestyle changes as above and also that you:

  • Follow a very low-fat diet
  • Lose a significant amount of weight
  • Take medicine or medicines designed to lower triglycerides

Be sure to talk to your health care provider before making any major changes to your diet or exercise routine.

References

  1. American Heart Association [Internet]. Dallas (TX): American Heart Association Inc.; c2017. (HDL) Good, (LDL) Bad Cholesterol and Triglycerides [updated 2017 May 1; cited 2017 May 15]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/HDLLDLTriglycerides/HDL-Good-LDL-Bad-Cholesterol-and-Triglycerides_UCM_305561_Article.jsp
  2. American Heart Association [Internet]. Dallas (TX): American Heart Association Inc.; c2017. What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean [updated 2017 Apr 25; cited 2017 May 15]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/What-Your-Cholesterol-Levels-Mean_UCM_305562_Article.jsp
  3. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth's Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Triglycerides; 491–2 p.
  4. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Lipid Profile: The Test Sample [updated 2015 Jun 29; cited 2017 May 15]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/lipid/tab/sample
  5. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Triglycerides: The Test [updated 2016 Jun 30; cited 2017 May 15]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/triglycerides/tab/test
  6. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2017. Triglycerides: The Test Sample [updated 2016 Jun 30; cited 2017 May 15]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/triglycerides/tab/sample
  7. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998–2017. Cholesterol Test: Why it's done; 2016 Jan 12 [cited 2017 May 15]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cholesterol-test/details/why-its-done/icc-20169529
  8. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998–2017. Triglycerides: Why do they matter?; 2015 Apr 15 [cited 2017 May 15]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/triglycerides/art-20048186
  9. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; ATP III Guidelines At-A-Glance Quick Desk Reference; 2001 May [cited 2017 Jul 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/atglance.pdf
  10. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III); 2001 May [cited 2017 Jul 17]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/atp3xsum.pdf
  11. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; How is High Blood Cholesterol Diagnosed? [updated 2016 Apr 8; cited 2017 May 15]; [about 5 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc/diagnosis
  12. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; What is Blood Cholesterol? [cited 2017 May 15]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc
  13. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; What Are the Risks of Blood Tests? [updated 2012 Jan 6; cited 2017 May 15]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/bdt/risks
  14. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; What To Expect with Blood Tests [updated 2012 Jan 6; cited 2017 May 15]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/bdt/with
  15. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: The Truth About Triglycerides [cited 2017 May 15]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=56&contentid=2967
  16. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Triglycerides [cited 2017 May 15]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=triglycerides

The medical information provided is for informational purposes only, and is not to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact your health care provider with questions you may have regarding medical conditions or the interpretation of test results.

In the event of a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.