Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food and in the body 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. Facters 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. The National Cholesterol Education Program advises that you have your lipids checked at least once every 5 years, starting at age 20. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends lipid screening for children at risk, such as those with a family history of hyperlipidemia or significant obesity starting between 2 to 8 years old. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends routine screening at 9 to 11 years old and again at 17 to 12 years old.
Triglycerides may be part of a fasting lipid profile blood test including:
Your doctor may recommend 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, to treat this condition and help lower the risk for heart disease. Statins have been shown to reduce death, heart attacks, and stroke in patients with high triglycerides. 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, take the following steps:
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 6, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Side effects of anti-HIV medications. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/SideEffectAnitHIVMeds_cbrochure_en.pdf. Published October 2005. Accessed March 2, 2016.
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 October 19, 2015. Accessed March 2, 2016.
7/22/2008 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://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 2016 by Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.