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High triglycerides

FDP olive oilTriglycerides are a type of fat (also called a lipid) that stores energy in your body, mainly in your fat cells. Everyone also has triglycerides in their blood (called lipoproteins), but some people have too many.

People with high triglycerides in their blood can have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

Causes of high triglycerides

High triglycerides (above 1.7 mmol/l) can be caused by not eating well, especially by eating too many fats and sugars and drinking alcohol.

Any fat you eat – whether it's saturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated – adds to your triglyceride levels. The amount of sugar you eat and alcohol you drink also has a strong effect.

Other risks for high triglycerides are prediabetes, diabetes and an underactive thyroid.

Some people have very high triglyceride levels (above 5 mmol/l) due to genetic factors (passed on from your parents) that stop them moving triglycerides out of their blood.

People with extremely high triglycerides (above 10 mmol/l) have a high risk of developing pancreatitis (a serious condition of the pancreas). They urgently need to get their triglyceride levels down. They also need special blood tests to find out what is causing the problem and they may need to take medication to lower their levels. It's also important that they make changes to their diet and lifestyle.

Diagnosing high triglycerides

A blood test is used to check your triglycerides. Your triglyceride level varies and is higher after eating. So, if your level is raised, you may need to have another blood test after not eating for at least eight hours.

On the next page: Lowering your triglyceride levels

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2021.

See also:

High cholesterol

Understanding your cholesterol results


Page reference: 114560

Review key: HIHTR-114560