High blood triglycerides are a type of lipid disorder, or dyslipidemia. This condition may occur on its own, with other lipid disorders such as high blood cholesterol or low HDL cholesterol, or as part of metabolic syndrome.
Certain medical conditions, genetics, lifestyle habits, and some medicines are all risk factors for high blood triglycerides. Medical conditions that may increase blood triglyceride levels include thyroid disease, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases, and overweight and obesity. Sometimes the gene you inherited can cause high blood triglyceride levels. Being physically inactive, eating foods that are high in fat and sugar, or drinking too much alcohol may increase blood triglycerides. Some medicines used to treat breast cancer, high blood pressure, HIV, and other conditions may also increase triglyceride levels in the blood.
High blood triglycerides usually do not cause any symptoms. Untreated or uncontrolled high blood triglyceride levels may increase your risk of serious complications such as coronary heart disease and stroke. Very high blood triglycerides can increase the risk of acute pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas that causes severe pain in the abdomen.
Based on your risk factors and your personal and family health histories, your doctor may recommend testing you for high blood triglycerides with a routine blood test called a lipid panel. A lipid panel measures the total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in your blood. Your doctor may diagnose you with high blood triglycerides if your fasting blood triglyceride levels are consistently 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or higher. Normal fasting blood triglyceride levels are less than 75 mg/dL for children under the age of 10 and less than 90 mg/dL for children age 10 and older and adults.
If you are diagnosed with high blood triglycerides, your doctor may first recommend that you adopt heart-healthy lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating, which includes limiting alcohol, added sugars, and foods high in saturated or trans fats; getting regular physical activity; quitting smoking; and aiming for a healthy weight. Your doctor may also prescribe medicines such as fibrates, omega-3 fatty acids, nicotinic acid, or statins to control or lower your triglyceride levels.
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