Cholesterol Home > High Triglycerides

Possible Complications With High Triglycerides

High triglycerides can increase your risk for developing certain medical conditions, including heart disease and heart attack. Over time, triglycerides can build up on your artery walls, as can cholesterol and other debris. This buildup is called plaque. Eventually, plaque can narrow the blood vessels, and sometimes this buildup may even block your blood vessels completely. Plaque buildup on your blood vessel walls is called atherosclerosis.
For people with very high triglycerides in the blood (over 1,000 mg/dL), this can also cause other conditions, including:
  • Xanthomas, which are fat deposits under the skin
  • Fatty liver
  • Pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas.

Lowering High Triglycerides

When results of a lipid panel (or other tests that measure triglycerides) indicate high triglycerides, the healthcare provider will first make sure that the person fasted prior to the test, as levels increase following a meal. The healthcare provider may also recommend that the person be retested. If the second fasting test also comes back high, the doctor will consider several factors before recommending treatment for high triglycerides. Some of these factors include a person's:
  • Triglyceride level
  • HDL level
  • Weight
  • Diet
  • Daily alcohol usage
  • Other medical conditions
  • Current medications.
The main goal of treatment is to lower triglycerides enough to reduce the risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. For people with high triglycerides and low HDL, treatment will be more aggressive, since these factors significantly increase a person's chance for heart disease.
Depending on a person's particular situation, options for lowering triglycerides can include:
  • Getting medical conditions under control
  • Replacing medications that are known to cause high triglycerides.
Lifestyle changes may also be recommended. These changes can include:
People with high triglycerides also tend to respond well to fish or fish oil in their diet. For most people, these steps will lower triglycerides to a normal level. If these steps are not effective, your healthcare provider may recommend medications.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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