What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat. They are the most common type of fat in your body. They come from foods, especially butter, oils, and other fats you eat. Triglycerides also come from extra calories. These are the calories that you eat, but your body does not need right away. Your body changes these extra calories into triglycerides, and stores them in fat cells. When your body needs energy, it releases the triglycerides. Your VLDL cholesterol particles carry the triglycerides to your tissues.
What causes high triglycerides?
Factors that can raise your triglyceride level include
- Regularly eating more calories that you burn off, especially if you eat a lot of sugar
- Being overweight of having obesity
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive alcohol use
- Certain medicines
- Some genetic disorders
- Thyroid diseases
- Poorly controlled type 2 diabetes
- Liver or kidney diseases
How do I know if I have high triglycerides?
There is a blood test that measures your triglycerides, along with your cholesterol. Triglyceride levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The guidelines for triglyceride levels are
|Normal||Less than 150mg/dL|
|Borderline high||150 to 199 mg/dL|
|High||200 to 499 mg/dL|
|Very high||500 mg/dL and above|
Levels above 150mg/dl may raise your risk for heart disease. A triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or higher is also a risk factor for metabolic syndrome.
How are high triglycerides treated?
You may be able to lower your triglyceride levels with lifestyle changes:
- Controlling your weight
- Regular physical activity
- Not smoking
- Limiting sugar and refined foods
- Limiting alcohol
- Switching from saturated fats to healthier fats
Some people will also need to take cholesterol medicines to lower their triglycerides.
- HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides (American Heart Association)
- Roadmap for Managing Your Triglycerides and Protecting Your Heart (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners) - PDF
- Triglycerides: Why Do They Matter? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- What Are High Blood Cholesterol and Triglycerides? (American Heart Association) - PDF Also in Spanish
- Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia) (American Heart Association)
- Triglycerides : Frequently Asked Questions (American Heart Association) - PDF
- Patient Guide to the Assessment and Treatment of Hypertriglyceridemia (High Triglycerides) (Hormone Health Network) - PDF
- Genetics Home Reference: hepatic lipase deficiency (National Library of Medicine)
Statistics and Research
- Big, Fat World of Lipids (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
- Trends in Elevated Triglyceride in Adults: United States, 2001-2012 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)