Causes of high triglycerides may be:

  • Genetic problems that cause the body to make too many triglycerides
  • Eating a lot of foods that raise triglyceride levels
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver disease

Risk Factors

High triglycerides are more common in older adults, especially men. Women who have gone through menopause also have a higher risk. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • A family history of too many blood fats—a condition called hyperlipidemia
  • A diet high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Certain health problems, such as:
    • Diabetes
    • Hypothyroidism
    • Cushing syndrome
  • Certain medicines, such as:
    • Birth control pills
    • Isotretinoin (an acne medicine)



High triglyceride levels usually do not cause symptoms. Very high levels of can cause:

  • Belly pain
  • Nausea and vomiting—from acute pancreatitis

High triglyceride levels can raise the risk of atherosclerosis. This can block blood flow. In some people, this may result in serious problems, such as:

  • Angina
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
Blood Vessel with Atherosclerosis
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Triglycerides can be measured in the blood. The test is done as part of a regular screening. For healthy adults, this may be every few years. Those with risk factors for heart disease may be screened more often. Young children may be screened if they are obese or have a family history of high triglycerides or high cholesterol. Regular screening may also be advised for older children.

Triglyceride screening is part of a fasting lipid profile blood test. It will include other measurements such as:

  • Total cholesterol
  • LDL (bad cholesterol)
  • HDL (good cholesterol)



The goal of treatment is to lower triglyceride levels. It will also help to lower the risk for heart disease and stroke. Treatment options include:

Diet Changes

Certain foods and drinks can affect triglyceride levels. Diet changes may be:

Lifestyle Changes

Other steps that can help lower triglyceride levels include:


There are many medicines to treat high triglycerides, such as statins, fibrates, and niacin. Medicines may help lower the risk of problems caused by high triglyceride levels, such as pancreatitis. They may also help lower the risk for heart disease. They may be used alone or with other medicines.


The risk of high triglycerides may be lowered by:

  • Eating a heart healthy diet
  • Getting enough physical activity
  • Not smoking
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Managing chronic health problems, such as diabetes

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.