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How Common Are High Triglycerides?

High triglycerides (over 200 mg/dL) occur in about 10 percent of people. Very high levels (over 1,000 mg/dL) are rare. The condition appears to be more common in men than women. High triglycerides also appear to be more common in Caucasians than in African Americans.

What Causes High Triglycerides?

Probably the most common cause of high triglycerides is inadequate fasting prior to a lipid test. Triglycerides in the blood increase following a meal; they can remain high for up to ten hours. If fasting does not occur, the person will have artificially high triglycerides. This is why healthcare providers do not want a person to eat food or drink coffee for at least 12 hours prior to triglyceride and cholesterol testing.
Other factors that have been shown to be causes of high triglycerides include:
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • High-carbohydrate diet
  • Birth control pills
  • Other drugs (including diuretics and steroids)
  • Genetic disorders (such as familial hypertriglyceridemia)
  • Certain diseases, including:

Symptoms of High Triglycerides and How They Are Diagnosed

There are no high triglyceride symptoms, so many people are unaware that their triglyceride levels are too high. Most people learn that they have high triglycerides through a blood test, such as a lipid panel.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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