When your triglyceride levels are too high, you may not have symptoms. It's a "silent" problem with big implications, such as a four-fold increase in the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke.
A simple blood test is all it takes to check your triglyceride levels. If they're too high, you can get them back under control, often by changing your daily habits.
If you already know that your triglyceride levels are too high, the actions you take now might even save your life.
Triglycerides and Blood Sugar
Having high triglycerides could be a sign that you’re becoming insulin-resistant, which means your body isn’t using insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar) properly.
When insulin doesn’t do its job, glucose can't get into your cells. That raises your blood sugar levels, which can lead to pre-diabetes and, eventually, type 2 diabetes.
Having diabetes makes you much more likely to have a heart attack and other heart problems, in addition to the risk from your high triglycerides.
Untreated diabetes is a major health threat. To manage it well, you may need to track everything you eat, test your blood sugar, exercise, lose extra weight, take medication as directed, and keep up with your medical appointments.
Many people don't know that they have diabetes. Your doctor should check on whether you do, and if so, help you get both your diabetes and your triglycerides under control.
Triglycerides and the Liver
High triglyceride levels can be a clue that you have fatty liver disease. Poor eating habits lead not only to high levels of fat in the bloodstream (triglycerides) but increased storage of fat throughout the body, including in the liver. Elevations in liver function tests (like ALT and AST) can indicate that fatty liver is present. Fatty liver usually does not cause symptoms, but unless reversed, fatty liver can lead to permanent liver damage and cirrhosis.
Trigylcerides and the Pancreas
If your triglyceride levels are “very high” -- above 500 mg/dL -- you are more likely to get inflammation in your pancreas.
Inflammation of the pancreas (a condition which doctors call pancreatitis) can cause permanent tissue damage. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, which may be severe.