If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other things that make you more likely to get heart disease, your doctor may want to keep a check on your triglyceride levels. Like cholesterol, triglycerides are a type of fat, or lipid, in your blood. Too much triglyceride can raise your chance of heart disease or cause sudden pancreatitis.
When Might You Need a Test?
- Are overweight or obese
- Don’t exercise
- Have high blood pressure
- Had a heart attack or have heart disease
- Have diabetes or prediabetes, thyroid disease, or kidney disease
How Are Triglycerides Measured?
A blood test called a lipid panel checks both your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Usually, your doctor will ask that you fast, or not eat or drink anything other than water, for 9-12 hours before the test. You’ll get blood drawn from a vein in your arm. Some labs offer non-fasting lipid panels, or they may prick your fingertip for blood.
What the Results Mean
Your triglyceride levels are measured in one of two ways: milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
- Normal: Less than 150 mg/dL, or less than 1.7 mmol/L
- Borderline high: 150 to 199 mg/dL or 1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L
- High: 200 to 499 mg/dL or 2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L
- Very high: 500 mg/dL or above or 5.7 mmol/L or above
How Often Should I Be Tested?
If you’re a healthy adult, you should get a lipid profile every 4-6 years. Children should have it done at least once between the ages of 9 and 11, and one more between 17 and 21. If you’re making changes to your diet or taking a medication for high cholesterol or triglycerides, experts advise you to get a lipid profile afterward.