( Triglycerides, High; Hypertriglyceridemia; Hyperlipidemia; Dyslipidemia)
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:
- Excess triglyceride production in the body, usually related to genetics
- Excess ingestion of triglycerides from food sources
- Kidney problems
- Liver disease
Facters that may increase your risk of high triglycerides include:
- Increased age
- Sex: male
- A family history of hyperlipidemia
- A diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol
- Postmenopause in women
- Lack of exercise
- Excess alcohol intake
- Certain conditions, including:
- Certain medications, such as birth control pills and isotretinoin, which is used to treat acne
High triglyceride levels usually do not cause symptoms. Very high levels of triglycerides can cause:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting—associated with acute pancreatitis
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:
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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 five 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:
- Total cholesterol
- LDL (bad cholesterol)
- HDL (good cholesterol)
Your doctor may recommend more frequent or earlier testing if you have a:
- Family history of hyperlipidemia
- Risk factor or disease that may cause hyperlipidemia
- Complication that may result from hyperlipidemia
Treatment is not only aimed at correcting your triglyceride levels, but also at lowering your overall risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Eat a diet low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol .
- Reduce or eliminate the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Eat more high-fiber foods.
There are a number of drugs available, such as statins , to treat this condition and help lower your 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.