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The triglyceride level is a lab test to measure the amount of triglycerides in your blood. Triglycerides are a type of fat.
Your body makes some triglycerides. Triglycerides also come from the food you eat. Extra calories are turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells for later use. If you eat more calories than your body needs, your triglyceride level may be high.
A test for high blood cholesterol levels is a related measurement.
A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.
You should not eat for 8 to 12 hours before the test.
Alcohol and some medicines can interfere with blood test results.
You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted. You may also feel some throbbing at the site after the blood is drawn.
The most important use of this test is to help estimate your LDL cholesterol. This test is also done to help assess your risk for heart disease. A high triglyceride level may lead to atherosclerosis. This condition increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. A high triglyceride level may also cause inflammation of your pancreas.
Persons with a high triglyceride level often have other conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, that also increase the risk of getting heart disease.
The triglyceride level is usually included in a lipid panel or coronary risk profile.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.
High triglyceride levels may be due to:
Low triglyceride levels may be due to:
Pregnancy can affect test results.
Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults. Executive summary of the third report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) expert panel on detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). JAMA. 2001;285(19):2486-2497.
Semenkovich CF. Disorders of lipid metabolism. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 213.
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.