Triglyceride level

Triglyceride Level: Overview

Triglyceride levels are an important indicator of your overall health. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood and are one of the two components of total cholesterol. Higher triglyceride levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health issues.

What is Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a type of fat that can travel through the bloodstream. Triglycerides are made by the body when digesting fats and carbohydrates. When you eat more calories than you burn, excess calories are stored in the body as triglycerides, ready to be used for energy when the body needs it. When you are active and use up this energy, your body turns the triglyceride back into sugars, which help to power your body through physical activity.

Preparation for Triglyceride Test

The most accurate way to test your triglyceride level is to have a blood test at your doctor's office. The blood sample is usually collected after fasting for up to 8-12 hours. Before you have your triglyceride test, you should tell your doctor if you have been taking any medications or supplements that may affect your triglyceride level, such as birth control pills, steroids, or testosterone.

Types of Triglyceride Tests

There are two types of triglyceride tests: direct and indirect. The direct test measures the amount of triglycerides in a blood sample. The indirect test measures the combination of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood sample.

Why You Should Monitor Your Triglyceride Level

Your triglyceride level can provide important information about your overall health, particularly in terms of heart health. Triglycerides are considered a marker for the risk of developing heart disease. Elevated triglyceride levels can contribute to a greater risk of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular disease.

When Should You Have Your Triglyceride Tested?

Triglyceride levels should typically be monitored at least every few years, although your doctor may recommend more frequent testing if you have a history of high triglyceride levels or a high risk for developing heart disease or stroke.

Risks of Elevated Triglyceride Levels

  • Increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Fatty liver
  • Pancreatitis
  • Insulin resistance
  • Excess abdominal fat

Normal Triglyceride Levels

Normal triglyceride levels vary depending on age and sex. The following are the general ranges for triglyceride levels in mg/dL:

  • Below 150 mg/dL is normal
  • Between 150 and 199 mg/dL is borderline high
  • Above 200 mg/dL is high
  • Above 500 mg/dL is very high

What Factors Affect Triglyceride Levels?

  • Diet: Eating foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and simple sugars can increase your triglyceride levels.
  • Alcohol: Drinking too much alcohol can raise triglyceride levels.
  • Obesity: Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above is associated with higher triglyceride levels.
  • Physical Activity: Lack of physical activity is associated with higher triglyceride levels.
  • Age: Triglycerides levels tend to increase with age.
  • Heredity: People with family members who have higher-than-average triglyceride levels may also have increased levels.
  • Certain Medical Conditions: People with diabetes, thyroid problems, kidney disease, and certain metabolic disorders may have higher triglyceride levels.
  • Certain Medications: Some medications, such as diuretics, beta blockers, hormones, steroids, and some cholesterol drugs, can increase triglyceride levels.

How to Lower Your Triglycerides?

You can reduce your triglyceride level by making lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You should also reduce your sugar and alcohol consumption. If these lifestyle changes are not enough to reduce your triglyceride levels, your doctor may recommend medications, such as statins, fibrates, omega-3 fatty acids, nicotinic acid, or niacin.