Triglycerides: What They are and Why They Matter


There are a lot of health conditions which can pose a serious threat to the heart - conditions that affect heartrate and rhythm or that impede blood’s ability to flow to and from in a steady and organized fashion. Any of these can result in some serious complications and can even prove fatal in the most serious cases. Given that heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women, it is important to prevent damage to the heart and cardiovascular system by monitoring and controlling such conditions, including lipid disorders like elevated triglycerides.

What Are Triglycerides?

Triglycerides are a specific type of fat (lipid) stored in the blood. When we consume food, some of the calories are immediately used for energy. Whatever is not needed is saved in the form of triglycerides for later use. However, when we eat an unhealthy diet or one that takes in more calories than we regularly burn, we can develop an unhealthy imbalance of too many triglycerides.

What are Normal Ranges of Triglycerides?

High triglycerides are normally detected during a cholesterol blood test called a lipid profile or lipid panel. Possible detected ranges include:

  • Normal – Less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (150mg/dL)
  • Borderline – 150 – 199 mg/dL
  • High – 200 – 499 mg/dL
  • Very High – 500 or more mg/dL

Why are High Triglycerides Harmful?

Having high or very high triglycerides can spell danger for heart health. Unfortunately, the highest levels of triglycerides also seem to commonly accompany other harmful conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure or cholesterol. As a result, patients with elevated triglycerides are often found to be at an increased risk of serious cardiovascular events including heart attack and stroke. In addition, the highest levels of triglycerides may also be associated with pancreatitis or can be early warning signs of type 2 diabetes or hypothyroidism.

Preventing and Treating High Triglycerides

A healthy diet, plenty of exercise and not smoking are the recipe to fight off most major health concerns and triglycerides are no different! Following this standard recipe for health is the easiest way to prevent high levels of triglycerides and the complications they can cause. However, if you are already suffering from this condition, there are treatment options your doctor may recommend including medications such as statins or fibrates.

If you are concerned about the possibility of high triglycerides or have already been diagnosed and want to take all the possible precautions to protect your heart, contact Cardiovascular Institute of the South today to request an appointment.

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CIS Staff

Written by CIS Staff