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What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a type of fat. They are the most common type of fat in your body. They come from foods, especially butter, oils, and other fats you eat. Triglycerides also come from extra calories. These are the calories that you eat, but your body does not need right away. Your body changes these extra calories into triglycerides, and stores them in fat cells. When your body needs energy, it releases the triglycerides. Your VLDL cholesterol particles carry the triglycerides to your tissues.

Having a high level of triglycerides can raise your risk of heart diseases, such as coronary artery disease.

What causes high triglycerides?

Factors that can raise your triglyceride level include

  • Regularly eating more calories that you burn off, especially if you eat a lot of sugar
  • Being overweight of having obesity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Certain medicines
  • Some genetic disorders
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Poorly controlled type 2 diabetes
  • Liver or kidney diseases

How do I know if I have high triglycerides?

There is a blood test that measures your triglycerides, along with your cholesterol. Triglyceride levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The guidelines for triglyceride levels are

Category Triglcyeride Level
Normal Less than 150mg/dL
Borderline high 150 to 199 mg/dL
High 200 to 499 mg/dL
Very high 500 mg/dL and above

Levels above 150mg/dl may raise your risk for heart disease. A triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL or higher is also a risk factor for metabolic syndrome.

How are high triglycerides treated?

You may be able to lower your triglyceride levels with lifestyle changes:

Some people will also need to take cholesterol medicines to lower their triglycerides.

Start Here

  • (American Heart Association)
  • (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners) - PDF
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
  • Easy-to-Read (American Heart Association) - PDF Also in

Diagnosis and Tests

  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
  • Triglycerides Test From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish

Related Issues

  • (American Heart Association)
  • (American Heart Association) - PDF


  • (Hormone Health Network) - PDF


  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)

Statistics and Research

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

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  • From the National Institutes of Health

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