Triglycerides are chemicals that contain and transport most of the fat from food. When triglyceride levels are high, it can be associated with coronary artery disease and stroke.
Causes may include:
It is more common for older adults, especially men, to have high triglycerides. Factors that may increase your risk of high triglycerides include:
High triglyceride levels usually do not cause symptoms. Very high levels of triglycerides can cause:
Elevated triglyceride levels can increase your risk of atherosclerosis. This is a dangerous hardening of the arteries. It can end up blocking blood flow. In some cases, this may result in:
This condition is diagnosed with blood tests. These tests measure the levels of triglycerides in the blood.
Triglycerides may be part of a fasting lipid profile blood test including:
Different major medical organizations have different recommendations for screening high triglycerides:
Your doctor may advise more frequent or earlier testing if you have a:
Treatment is not only aimed at correcting triglyceride levels, but also at lowering the overall risk for heart disease and stroke.
Dietary changes can help to lower triglyceride levels. These may include:
Lifestyle changes that can help lower triglyceride levels include:
There are a number of drugs available, such as statins, fibrates, and niacin to treat this condition. These may help prevent complications from very high triglyceride levels, such as pancreatitis. They may also help lower the risk for heart disease. They may be used alone or together in different combinations. Talk to your doctor about whether these medications are right for you.
These medications are best used as additions to diet and exercise and should not replace healthy lifestyle changes.
To help reduce your chance of getting hyperlipidemia, follow this plan:
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Hypertriglyceridemia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115419/Hypertriglyceridemia. Updated July 25, 2017. Accessed March 5, 2018.
What your cholesterol levels mean. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/AboutCholesterol/What-Your-Cholesterol-Levels-Mean_UCM_305562_Article.jsp. Updated February 19, 2018. Accessed March 5, 2018.
7/22/2008 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115419/Hypertriglyceridemia: Daniels SR, Greer FR; Committee on Nutrition. Lipid screening and cardiovascular health in childhood. Pediatrics. 2008;122:198-208.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Alan Drabkin, MD Last Updated: 5/2/2014