How Do I Know if I Have High Triglycerides?

You’ve probably heard of cholesterol. You might even know if your levels are too high. But what do you know about your triglycerides?

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?

Just as you can have high cholesterol without knowing, you may not have any symptoms of high triglyceride levels. So your doctor will often check them regularly, especially if you:

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.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 12, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Triglycerides: Why do they matter?”

American Association for Clinical Chemistry/Lab Tests Online: “Triglycerides.”

Medscape: “Hypertriglyceridemia.”

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