Triglycerides Test

What is a Triglyceride Test?

A triglyceride test measures the amount of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood. Triglycerides form when your body changes unused calories into fat for energy storage. If your test results show high triglycerides, it may be a sign of high cholesterol. High cholesterol increases your risk of developing serious health issues, such as heart disease and stroke.

Types of Triglyceride Tests

There are two types of tests for measuring your triglyceride levels:

  • A fasting lipid profile (FLP) test. This test requires you to fast for at least nine hours prior to the test. An FLP test measures triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
  • A non-fasting triglyceride test. This test isn’t as accurate as an FLP test, but it may be better than not testing your triglyceride levels at all. This test may also be used if you’re unable to fast for nine hours.

Preparing for a Triglyceride Test

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Before you have the test, you may need to fast for nine to 12 hours. During this time, you can drink water and black, unsweetened coffee or tea.
  • Avoid eating. Don’t eat or drink anything other than water or black, unsweetened tea or coffee for nine to 12 hours before the test. Don’t consume any alcohol, either.
  • Don’t change your medications. Talk to your healthcare provider first if you need to change your medications. This includes over-the-counter medications, as well as supplements and vitamins.
  • Wait to exercise. It’s best to avoid physical activity for 12 hours prior to your triglyceride test.

Procedure & Risks

A triglyceride test is usually done with a simple blood test. During the test, a healthcare provider will draw a sample of your blood from a vein in your arm. This part of the test usually takes less than five minutes. The sample will be sent to a lab for testing. The results of the test will be available within a few days.

A triglyceride test is a safe procedure. You won’t experience any long-term side effects from the test. However, you may experience slight discomfort when the healthcare provider draws a sample of your blood. Rarely, you may faint, bruise, or develop an infection at the puncture site.

When to Have a Triglyceride Test

Your healthcare provider will recommend that you have a triglyceride test if you have risk factors for high triglycerides. These risks include:

  • Being overweight
  • Family history of high cholesterol or heart disease
  • Being pregnant
  • Eating a diet high in sugar and fat
  • Cigarette smoking or excessive alcohol consumption
  • Having chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or an overactive thyroid

Risks of High Triglycerides

High triglyceride levels can increase your risk of developing serious health issues, such as heart disease and stroke. High triglycerides can also be a sign of metabolic syndrome, a condition that can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and other serious ailments. If you’re found to have high triglycerides, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or medications to help manage your cholesterol.