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What Are Triglycerides and Why Do They Matter?

What Are Triglycerides and Why Do They Matter?

Have you been monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels? Great!

But have you been watching your triglycerides?

Having a high level of triglycerides in your blood can increase your risk of heart disease. However, the same lifestyle choices that promote overall health can help lower your triglycerides, too.

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood.

When you eat, your body converts any calories not used into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, the triglycerides are released for energy between meals.

What is considered normal?

A blood test can reveal whether your triglycerides fall into a healthy range:

  • Normal – Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/DL), or less than 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)
  • Borderline high – 150 to 199 mg/dL (1.8 to 2.2 mmol/L)
  • High – 200 to 499 mg/dl (2.3 to 5.6 mmol/L)
  • Very high – 500 mg/dL or above (5.7 mmol/L or above)

Your doctor can check your triglyceride levels as part of a lipid panel.

Why do high triglycerides matter?

High triglycerides can contribute to the hardening of arteries or thickening of the artery walls, which increases the chance of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. In some cases, extremely high triglycerides can cause pancreatitis.

High triglycerides are often a sign of other conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. These include:

  • Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Low levels of thyroid hormones
  • Certain rare genetic conditions that affect how your body converts fat to energy

What’s the best way to lower triglycerides?

There are many different ways to lower triglycerides into a healthy range:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates
  • Lose weight
  • Choose healthier fats
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink
  • Take medication prescribed by your physician

Interested in what your triglyceride levels are? Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, visit to connect with one today!