Dyslipidemia

Overview

Definition

High triglycerides are high levels of a type of fat in the blood. Triglycerides come from certain fats in food. When triglyceride levels are high, it can raise the risk of heart disease and stroke. Treatment can help lower triglycerides.

Causes

Causes may include:

  • 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
  • Excess alcohol intake
  • Certain conditions, such as:
    • Diabetes
    • Low thyroid
    • Cushing syndrome
  • Certain medicines, such as:
    • Birth control pills
    • Isotretinoin, used to treat acne

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Symptoms

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 can end up blocking blood flow. In some cases, this may result in:

  • Angina
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Other serious problems

Blood Vessel with Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Diagnosis

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)

A doctor can advise how often a person should be tested for high triglycerides. This is often based on the person's family and medical history.

Treatments

Treatment

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. To help lower triglyceride levels, the doctor may advise:

  • Eating a diet low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol
  • Not drinking alcohol or drinking only a small amount
  • Eating more high-fiber foods

Lifestyle Changes

Other steps that can help lower triglyceride levels include:

  • Reaching and keeping a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising regularly
  • Treating and controlling other medical conditions

Medications

There are many medicines to treat this condition., Some examples are 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 doctor can advise which are best.

Even when using medicines, diet and exercise are important..

Prevention

To help reduce the chance of getting hyperlipidemia, talk to the doctor about: :

  • When to get blood tests
  • How to eat a healthier diet
  • What type of exercise is best
  • How to quit smoking or drinking alcohol
  • How to control health problems such as diabetes
  • Medicines that might raise triglyceride levels

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.

a (Triglycerides, High; Hypertriglyceridemia; Hyperlipidemia; Dyslipidemia)

RESOURCES

American Heart Association https://www.heart.org/ 

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca 

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.ca 

References

Hypertriglyceridemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypertriglyceridemia. Accessed December 22,2020.

Klempfner, R, Erez, A, Sagit, B, et al. Elevated triglyceride level is independently associated with increased all-cause mortality in patients with established coronary heart disease: twenty-two-year follow-up of the bezafibrate infarction prevention study and registry. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2016 Mar;9(2):100-8. Accessed December 22, 2021.

What your cholesterol levels mean. American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol/what-your-cholesterol-levels-mean. Accessed December 22, 2021 .