Triglycerides are the most common type of fat present in a person’s body. Body stores and utilizes this form of fat for the purpose of energy between meals. High triglycerides in the bloodstream might indicate a risk of medical problems. Keep on reading this article to know about triglycerides, normal range, why these levels increase, and ways to reduce them.
What are Triglycerides?
After food goes into the system, the sugar, calories, and alcohol that a person’s body doesn’t require get converted into triglycerides. Also, the body stores them in the fat cells. When a person requires energy, hormones liberate triglycerides. If a person eats more high-carb foods than he or she burns, there may be a risk of high triglyceride levels.
Triglyceride is a mixture of:
- 3 fatty acids (saturated, unsaturated fats, or both)
- Glycerol: Simple sugar or a type of glucose.
High triglyceride levels are often referred to as hypertriglyceridemia. It is a high-risk factor for the condition named atherosclerosis. In this, narrowing of the arteries results, and this may give rise to a heart attack or stroke. High triglyceride levels may indicate a greater risk of liver problems and pancreatitis (pancreas gets inflamed).
Triglycerides Normal Range and High Range
A lipid panel would test a person’s blood for the levels of:
- Total cholesterol, HDL, LDL cholesterol
A general blood test can show you if you are in a healthy range of triglyceride or not:
- Normal — Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 8.33 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
- Borderline high — 150 to 199 mg/dL (8.32 to 11.05 mmol/L)
- High — 200 to 499 mg/dL (11.11 to 27.72 mmol/L)
- Very high — 500 mg/dL or above ( 27.77 mmol/L or above)
For Children ( 10 to 19 years):
- Normal — Less than 90 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 5 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
- Borderline high — 90 to 129 mg/dL (5 to 7.17 mmol/L)
- High — 130 or above mg/dL (7.2 mmol/L or above)
For Children (Below 10 years):
- Normal — Less than 75 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or less than 4.17 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
- Borderline high — 75 to 99 mg/dL (4.17 to 5.5 mmol/L)
- High — 100 or above mg/dL ( 5.56 mmol/L or above)
A healthcare provider might ask a person to avoid eating, or fasting, for 12 hours or so prior to the test. Every person must aim for a non-fasting level of TGs i.e., under 150 mg/dL. If a physician has requested a person to fast for a test (10-14 hours), then the levels must be under 30 mg/dL. This “fasting test” number is quite low as only the TGs prepared by the liver and transported to the VLDL cholesterol would be assessed, not the TGs obtained from food products. As a person has not consumed anything, no chylomicrons would be present in the blood.
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What Causes High Triglycerides?
Triglyceride levels might increase depending upon factors including:
- Being obese
- History of elevated cholesterol
- Consuming meals rich in sugar and simple carbs
- Having hypertension or high blood pressure
- Having untreated diabetes
- Consuming various medicines like corticosteroids, diuretics, hormones, or beta-blockers
- Having alcohol in excess amounts
- Having liver or kidney problems
- Experiencing thyroid problems
- Having menopause
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Triglycerides and Diabetes
High triglyceride levels are an indication of health problems that increase the risk of heart problems. High levels might indicate:
- Prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes
- Low thyroid hormone levels (a condition called hypothyroidism)
- Metabolic syndrome: it is a condition when obesity, hypertension, and high blood glucose take place together. It enhances the risk of heart problems.
- Various rare hereditary problems affect how a person’s body converts fat to energy.
At times, high triglycerides are an ill effect of various drugs like:
- HIV medications
- Estrogen and progestin
Test For Triglycerides
A blood test measures TG levels in the blood. TGs measurement comes under the lipoprotein panel (lipid panel). In this, cholesterol (HDL, LDL), and triglycerides are evaluated simultaneously. There is a necessity to fast for about 6 to 12 hours prior to the test. Digestion and recent consumption affect the fat levels in the blood. Incorrectly high results might happen if a person performs the blood test just after consuming.
How Often is the Test Needed?
The AHA proposes that individuals above 20 years must be tested every 4 to 6 years. Depending upon a person’s health, healthcare providers might recommend regular testing. Also, the AHA suggests checking children one time when they reach 9-11 years of age. Also, one time when children reach the age group of 17 and 21 years.
Beyond normal triglycerides might raise a person’s risk of heart problems. These may include arteriosclerosis (arterial hardening of arterial wall thickening), heart attack, and stroke. If a person’s levels are extremely high, he or she might be at risk of pancreatitis and hepatic problems.
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Treatment for High Triglycerides
Healthcare providers may suggest prescription drugs to treat elevated triglycerides. Few of these medicines may involve:
- Cholesterol absorption blockers
- Statins including rosuvastatin and atorvastatin
- Fibrates including gemfibrozil and fenofibrate
- PCSK9 inhibitors
- Nicotinic acid
How to Lower Triglycerides With Diabetes
The 3 basic ways to reduce high triglyceride levels include:
- Consuming a healthy, nutritious diet
- Weight management
- Performing regular aerobic exercises
Healthy lifestyle options that are useful in reducing high triglycerides are:
Diet for High Triglycerides
A high triglyceride diet plays a crucial role in maintaining normal levels. Usually, it is vital to only consume the energy the body would utilize that day and avoid too many calories. It is important to consume a meal including:
- Whole grains
- Non-tropical veggie oils like olive oil
- Lean, healthy protein sources (nuts, seafood, low-fat dairy products)
Moreover, it is vital to restrict the consumption of:
- Extra sugar
- Sugary drinks
- Sweet and baked goods
- Fatty meats
Also, people must avoid food products having hydrogenated oils or fats. Rather than the fat present in meats, it is better to select plant-based fats. These may include olive oil and canola oil. People must swap red meat with fish containing high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Examples may include mackerel or salmon. It is good to restrict one’s alcohol intake as alcohol is rich in calories and sugar.
It is really important to skip simple carbs like sugar and foods prepared from white flour, trans fats, or fructose. Also, it is vital to restrict alcohol intake as alcohol is rich in both calories and sugar. It can in riskily increase triglyceride levels.
Exercises to Control High Triglycerides Levels
The AHA suggests one and half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises weekly. This is approximately half an hour of exercise, 5 days each week, or 75 minutes of intense aerobic exercise each week.
Exercise is a vital aspect of health for every person. It aids in maintaining a healthy weight. In addition, exercise may aid in keeping the triglyceride levels low. Exercise supports burning calories, which might a person’s body to utilize additional triglycerides for energy.
For optimal heart health, moderate-intensity exercises or any low-impact aerobic exercises are excellent ways to give a good start.
Additional calories get converted into triglycerides and stored in the body as fat. If a person lowers his or her calories, he or she would decrease the triglycerides. It is better to target and maintain a moderate weight using meal planning and exercise.
Other lifestyle modifications to assist reduction in triglycerides may involve:
- Managing diabetes and hypertension
- Mitigating stress
- Getting sufficient sleep
- Quitting smoking
If a person has high triglyceride levels, even a little weight loss (5-10 pounds) may reduce the levels.
Supplements and Medicines
In cases like if an individual requires to bring down their triglyceride levels down instantly or fails to react to diet and exercise, physicians might recommend supplements or medicines. These would aid in reducing triglyceride levels.
- Fibrates: These medicines help to lower overall triglyceride levels. They do so by decreasing the liver’s production of VDL lipoproteins (prepared from mostly TGs). They involve gemfibrozil and fenofibrate. Fibrates enhance the risk of ill effects if consumed in combination with a statin.
- Fish oil: In huge amounts, omega-3 fatty acids might aid in reducing the TGs. The most commonly used supplement is fish oil.
- Statins: These are HMG CoA reductase blockers. These medicines prevent the production of cholesterol in the liver. They effectively reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol. Also, they reduce TGs and increase HDL cholesterol as per the USFDA.
- Niacin: Also referred to as nicotinic acid. It is a B vitamin that might elevate the levels of HDL cholesterol. It also reduces the total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and TGs levels. A physician might recommend niacin if a person’s triglyceride levels are above 500 mg/dL. Niacin is known to interact with other medicines and lead to side effects. Thus, it is better not to consume OTC niacin without speaking about it with a doctor.
It is likely that supplements or medicines that reduce triglycerides might interact with other medicines an individual is consuming. Hence, like other medicines, people must consume supplements under a doctor’s guidance only.
A triglyceride is a form of fat or lipid. It constitutes majorly the fats in a diet. Raised TGs levels are the biggest risk factor for cardiovascular problems. In addition, there are primary and secondary reasons for high levels of triglycerides. They are mostly other medical conditions.
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Are Low Levels of Triglycerides a Cause for Concern?
As the low levels are classically not a reason for concern, there is no existing range for them. The below normal levels of triglycerides, those below 150 mg/dL, are potentially an image of:
- A healthy and nourishing diet
- A low-fat diet
- A diet involving fasting
Low levels of triglycerides might also indicate an underlying health problem. This can be malnutrition or malabsorption. However, such health problems are detected and diagnosed by other signs.
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When it is Good to See a Doctor?
High triglycerides generally fail to give rise to any signs. The signs classically arise when a healthcare provider requests a blood test involving a lipid panel. If a person does not have high-risk factors like medical problems or any lifestyle factors, a physician would ask for a lipid panel for some years. This keeps a regular check on the triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
If the lipid panel outcomes give beyond normal triglyceride levels, physicians might recommend certain lifestyle changes i.e., diet and exercise. If diet and exercise fail to give the desired outcomes, then the doctor can suggest medicines like statins or fibrates.
Triglyceride levels are crucial for the overall health and cardiac health of a person. Keeping these levels in a standard limit might aid in lowering the risk of cardiovascular problems. Physicians might suggest medicines for individuals in a few high-risk cases. Yet, most individuals might lower their triglycerides by taking a balanced diet and doing regular exercises.
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Do high triglycerides have an impact on the kidneys?
Greater TGs constantly link to a higher risk of increased creatinine levels. As a result, reduced renal function.
Can stress result in high triglycerides?
The high levels of cortisol from chronic stress might enhance TGs, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure. All of them are common risk factors for cardiovascular problems. Stress may also result in modifications supporting the accumulation of plaque deposits in the arteries.
Do the levels of triglycerides change if not fasting?
It is found that non-fasting TGs levels of below 200 mg/dL must be considered high. A person’s body stores TGs in their fat tissues. However, they travel via the bloodstream as well.
Do triglyceride levels modify every day?
Triglycerides modify intensely in response to diet. Eating food increases the levels 5 to 10 times higher than fasting state. Even fasting levels may differ significantly on a daily basis. Hence, modest modifications in fasting TGs assessed on different days are not abnormal.
Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.