Use the form below to search the Health Library.

 Health Information  Health Articles  Any

High Triglycerides

( Triglycerides, High; Hypertriglyceridemia; Hyperlipidemia; Dyslipidemia)
  • Definition

    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

    Causes may include:
    • Excess triglyceride production in the body, usually related to genetics
    • Excess ingestion of triglycerides from food sources
    • Kidney problems
    • Liver disease
  • Risk Factors

    It is more common for older adults, especially men, to have high triglycerides. Facters that may increase your risk of high triglycerides include:
  • Symptoms

    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:
    Blood Vessel with Atherosclerosis
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • Diagnosis

    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 5 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)
    • Triglycerides
    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

    Treatment is not only aimed at correcting triglyceride levels, but also at lowering the overall risk for heart disease and stroke.
    Diet Changes
    Dietary changes can help to lower triglyceride levels. These may include:
    Lifestyle Changes
    Lifestyle changes that can help lower triglyceride levels include:
    There are a number of drugs available, such as statins , to treat this condition and help lower the 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.
    These medications are best used as additions to diet and exercise and should not replace healthy lifestyle changes.
  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of getting hyperlipidemia, take the following steps:
    • Have cholesterol tests starting at age 20—or younger if you have risk factors.
    • Eat a diet low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
    • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
    • Drink alcohol in moderation—two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • Exercise regularly. Talk with your doctor first.
    • If you have diabetes , control your blood sugar.
    • Talk to your doctor about medications you are taking. Some may have side effects that cause high triglyceride levels .

    American Heart Association

    Vascular Web


    Canadian Cardiovascular Society

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada


    Hypertriglyceridemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 16, 2015. Accessed March 2, 2016.

    Side effects of anti-HIV medications. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: Published October 2005. Accessed March 2, 2016.

    What your cholesterol levels mean. American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated October 19, 2015. Accessed March 2, 2016.

    7/22/2008 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance Daniels SR, Greer FR; Committee on Nutrition. Lipid screening and cardiovascular health in childhood. Pediatrics. 2008;122:198-208.

    Revision Information

  • Connect with Steward

    Visit Our Twitter Feed Visit Our Facebook Page Email This Page Print This Page

    Subscribe to our patient e-newsletter

    Copyright © 2016 Steward Health Care
    Connect Healthcare Panacea CMS Solutions