Understanding Triglycerides

Understanding Triglycerides

High triglyceride levels are linked to coronary artery disease. When your doctor does blood work to check cholesterol levels he will also be checking your triglyceride levels for a more complete picture of your health.

Triglycerides are a chemical form of fat particles in your blood that are used for energy. Unused calories are converted to triglycerides and then stored in fat cells. Hormones release triglycerides from fat tissue into the blood stream for energy the body can use.

Compare your overnight fasting triglyceride values to the chart below.

Normal                 less than 150 mg/dL

Borderline           150-199 mg/dL
High                       200-499 mg/dL
Very High            500 mg/dL or more

High triglyceride levels increase risks for: Atherosclerosis, Diabetes, Stroke, Heart Attack, Heart Disease and Metabolic Syndrome.


Causes of high triglyceride levels:

  • Obesity
  • Untreated or poorly treated diabetes
  • Low levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Kidney Disease
  • Genetics
  • High alcohol consumption

Medicines that can affect triglyceride levels are: Tamoxifen, steroids, beta-blockers, diuretics, Estrogen, and birth control pills.

Lifestyle choices for reducing triglycerides:

  • Lose excess pounds and get to your ideal body weight. Click here to compute your ideal body weight.
  • Reduce your consumption of foods that are high in saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol.
  • Avoid sugary foods.
  • Avoid alcohol or at least reduce your consumption.
  • Exercise regularly the American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of physical activity 5 or more days per week.
  • Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) while reducing beef consumption.
  • Get high blood pressure under control if necessary.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke.

There are medications available if good healthy lifestyle choices aren’t working. Your doctor may prescribe a fibrates medication, nicotinic acids, or cholesterol lowering statin in combination with a fibrate.