High Triglycerides: Overview

Triglycerides are the major form of fat in foods. After you digest them, they circulate through your bloodstream before being stored as fat. If you have high triglycerides, it means that there is either too much fat in your blood from the fatty foods you eat or that excess calories are being converted to fat. There are also hereditary causes of elevated triglycerides called familial hypertriglyceridemia. While treatment like dietary changes may also help somewhat with those causes, medication is usually required.
Normal triglyceride levels should be less than 150 mg/dL (milligrams/deciliter). If your triglyceride reading is higher, this is what your reading indicates:

  • 150-199: Borderline high
  • 200-499: High
  • 500 and above: Very high

High triglycerides are more common in men than women. Also, if you have diabetes, it's likely that you also have high triglyceride levels.

Treating high triglycerides is like treating high cholesterol. Cholesterol and triglycerides are related in that they are both blood lipids (blood fats) and that high triglyceride levels often accompany high total cholesterol. When you lower your triglycerides, you also reduce your total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

High triglyceride levels can be associated with complications such as memory loss, skin lesions, abdominal pain, and pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. High triglycerides also can put you at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, neuropathy (nerve damage) and other conditions. The good news is that with the right healthcare team and following your treatment plan, you can lower your high triglycerides!