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Triglycerides

Does this test have other names?

Lipid panel, fasting lipoprotein panel

What is this test?

This test measures the amount of triglycerides in your blood.

Triglycerides are one of several types of fats in your blood. Other kinds are LDL ("bad") cholesterol and HDL ("good") cholesterol.

Knowing your triglyceride level is important, especially if you're overweight, a smoker, or mostly inactive. High triglyceride levels put you at greater risk for a heart attack or stroke.  

This test is part of a group of cholesterol and blood fat tests called a fasting lipoprotein panel, or lipid panel. This panel is recommended for all adults at least once every five years.

Knowing your triglyceride level helps your doctor suggest healthy changes to your diet or lifestyle. If you have triglycerides that are high to very high, your doctor is more likely to prescribe medications to lower your triglycerides or your LDL cholesterol.

Why do I need this test?

You may have this test as part of a routine checkup. You may also need this test if you're overweight, drink too much alcohol, rarely exercise, or have other conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.

If you are on cholesterol-lowering drugs, you may have this test to see how well your treatment is working.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor will order screening tests for LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol.

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Results are given in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Normal levels of triglycerides are less than 150 mg/dL.

Here are how higher numbers are classified:

  • 150 to 199 mg/dL: Borderline high

  • 200 to 499 mg/dL: High

  • 500 mg/dL and above: Very high

If you have a high triglyceride level, you have a greater risk for heart attack and stroke.

A triglyceride level above 150 mg/dL also means that you have an increased risk of metabolic syndrome. This is a cluster of symptoms including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high body fat around the waist. These symptoms have been linked to increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

High triglycerides levels can also be caused by certain diseases or inherited conditions.

If your triglyceride level is above 200 mg/dL, your health care provider may recommend that you:

  • Lose weight

  • Limit high-fat foods containing saturated fats. These are animal fats found in meat, butter, and whole milk.

  • Limit trans fats, which are found in many processed foods like chips and store-bought cookies

  • Cut back on drinks with added sugars, such as soda

  • Limit your alcohol intake

  • Stop smoking

  • Control your blood pressure

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week

  • Limit the calories from fat in your diet to 25 to 35 percent of your total intake

If your triglycerides are extremely high – above 500 mg/dL – you may have an added risk for problems with your pancreas, and you will likely need medication to lower your levels.

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.

What might affect my test results?

Not fasting for the required length of time before the test can affect your results. Certain medications can affect your results, as can drinking alcohol.

How do I prepare for the test?

If you have this test as part of a cholesterol screening, you will need to not eat or drink anything but water for nine to 14 hours before the test. In addition, be sure your doctor knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.

 

Triglycerides - WellSpan Health

Author: Pascual, Psyche
Online Medical Reviewer: Sohrabi, Farrokh, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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