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All You Should Know About Triglycerides

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All You Should Know About Triglycerides

Cardiology | by Dr. Ashok B Malpani | Published on 01/05/2023

We have all heard for years that cholesterol is not good for our hearts. Although, there is another player that plays an essential role in heart health equally is triglycerides. Both triglycerides and cholesterol are fats in the blood and if the levels are too high, they lead to enhancing the risk of heart attack and stroke according to the research. In this article, we will discuss why triglycerides matter so stick to the end. However, note that it is for informational purposes only and doesn’t interrupt the consultation of a doctor.

What are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are vital fats that one can obtain from foods such as meat, oil, and butter. Most of the fat in the human body are triglycerides as they are calories that are unused we eat but don’t require. They are present in the blood and help in moving adipose fat from one tissue to another and glucose in the blood from the liver. It is also known as one of the important elements of human skin oils. Eating too much food or high-fat food that the body doesn’t need is stowed in the fat cells in the triglycerides form instantly. There are VLDL cholesterol particles in the body that are useful in moving triglycerides to the tissues. The enzyme lipase involves causing the breakdown of the triglycerides into fatty acids and monoglycerides.

How are triglycerides different from cholesterol?

Both cholesterol and triglycerides are not similar fats and are different from each other that keep circulating in the body. Triglycerides benefit in storing and using the fats that help in converting into energy when the body needs it. Cholesterol is vital to building cells, tissues in the body, and hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. 

What happens when triglyceride levels are high in the body?

Triglycerides' normal range is important to ensure good health. If the levels of triglycerides are high, then it can lead to heart issues such as coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, etc. High levels can also lead to enhancing the risk of pancreas inflammation referred to as pancreatitis. 

High levels of triglycerides occur because of daily consumption of excessive amounts of calories that the body is unable to use instantly. It happens because of the following reasons:

  • Obesity 
  • Smoking 
  • Alcohol consumption 
  • Thyroid issues 
  • Genetic disorders 
  • Liver diseases 
  • Type 2 diabetes is uncontrolled 
  • Kidney problems 
  • Consuming medications like steroids, retinoids, diuretics, etc. 
  • Excess intake of sugar 

What are high triglycerides symptoms?

High triglyceride levels usually don’t cause any symptoms. However, they can lead to causing some serious complications. People with high triglyceride levels can experience problems like inflammation in the pancreas, vomiting, nausea, fever, appetite loss, and abdominal pain. 

What causes triglycerides to fluctuate?

There are many factors due to which triglycerides level keep fluctuating naturally which include regular intake of calories and time of day. Eating a high-calorie meal can upsurge the levels of triglycerides and the body might store it for further use to convert into energy when it is required. 

However, these fluctuations are short-lived, but they are known to be the segment of the reason why healthcare professionals might ask the patient to fast prior to the lipid profile blood test. 

There are health conditions that might enhance the risk of increased triglycerides level. Here are some of them:

  • Metabolic syndrome 
  • Insulin resistance
  • Hypothyroidism 
  • Diabetes 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Obesity
  • Inflammatory illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis

What is triglyceride's normal range?

You want your triglycerides to be below 150 mg/dL. Borderline high triglycerides are from 150-199 mg/dL. Triglyceride levels indicate a high risk for heart disease above 200 mg/dL.

How are triglycerides treated?

The healthcare professionals usually recommend making certain lifestyle changes at first and if it doesn’t work, then they prescribe medicinal treatment options to the patients. Here are some lifestyle changes which are asked the doctor to follow for triglycerides treatment: 

  • Firstly, it is recommended to exercise daily at least for 30 minutes and five times a week 
  • Avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates is highly suggested to reduce high triglycerides levels.
  • One must make sure to lose weight by cutting calories from their diet to manage triglyceride levels.
  • Choosing healthier fats is very important to manage triglyceride levels. Hence, one must choose fats like omega-3 fatty acids, olive oil, or canola oils. Trans fat and hydrogenated oils should be avoided. 
  • Reducing the consumption of alcohol plays an important role when managing triglyceride levels.


If lifestyle changes aren’t working well to treat high triglycerides levels, your doctor might suggest: 

  • Statins- These are medications that help in lowering cholesterol levels and are prescribed in case of diabetes or blocked arteries.
  • Fibrates- These medications are lowering down the levels of triglycerides. They aren’t used if the patient has a liver illness or kidney disease.
  • Fish oils- It is also known as omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil can benefit to reduce triglycerides. If they are taken at high levels, they can interrupt blood clotting. Hence, consulting the doctor is important before consuming any supplements. 
  • Niacin- Also known as nicotinic acid, it helps to reduce triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein. Consulting the doctor is recommended before consuming this medication to prevent side effects.


Triglyceride's high levels can lead to enhancing the heart disease risk and pancreatitis. It is important to manage eating and drinking as it causes high triglyceride levels. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce triglyceride levels. If you are diagnosed with the condition, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes and medications that are effective for your heart health and reducing the triglycerides levels. You can consult BM Birla Heart Research Centre, one of the cardiac care and linked healthcare services offering the best patient care and treatment services.


What level of triglycerides is dangerous?

500 mg/dL and above is considered to be the most dangerous triglyceride level.

How to reduce triglycerides naturally?

Making certain lifestyle changes help to reduce high triglycerides levels such as exercising, eating heart-healthy food, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol, etc.