High Triglycerides: Causes & Risk Factors

If your doctor informed you that you have high triglycerides, you will need to limit the amount of fatty foods in your diet and increase the amount of high-fiber foods you eat. Understanding other causes of and risk factors for high triglycerides can be helpful.

Common risk factors for high triglycerides include:

  • Age. As you get older, your triglyceride levels increase steadily.
  • Weight. Carrying excess weight puts you at a higher risk for having high triglycerides, particularly if your waist measures more than 35 inches.
  • Level of activity. Aerobic exercise can reduce your triglyceride level. Even 30 minutes a day may result in a significant reduction, especially if you are following a recommended diet at the same time.
  • Alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption can increase triglyceride levels. The American Heart Association recommends that men should not consume more than two drinks a day and women should not consume more than one a day. As with food intake, watch portion sizes.
  • High blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, your risk of developing heart disease increases. A healthy, low-sodium diet and/or medications often can lower blood pressure, but medication may be required.
  • Type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, make sure to manage it effectively.
  • Medications. Some medications—such as birth control pills, estrogen therapy (often used for menopause) and diuretics—actually can raise triglycerides. Check with your doctor to make sure that the medications you are taking will not raise your triglyceride levels.
  • Heredity. For some people, high triglycerides can be attributed to family history.