Clinical definition of the Triglycerides test
Triglyceride is a form of fat made in the body. It is an ester derived from glycerol and three fatty acids and is the main constituent of vegetable oil and animal fats. The main source of triglycerides is from the food that is consumed. However, the fat and liver cells of our body also make some triglycerides. When food is eaten, the body uses carbohydrate calories for immediate energy. The leftover calories are then turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells for later use. If there is an excess of consumption of calories than what the body needs, it may result in high levels of triglyceride. High levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream have been linked to atherosclerosis, diabetes, pancreatitis and to a high risk of other heart diseases and stroke.
Elevated levels of triglycerides are mainly due to obesity, physical inactivity; cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a diet very high in carbohydrates. Hence it is generally seen that high triglycerides are mainly a lifestyle-related risk factor.
Why is the Triglycerides test done?
The triglyceride level is a laboratory test to measure the amount of triglycerides in the blood. It is typically included as a part of the lipid panel which also checks total cholesterol, HDL, VLDL and LDL levels to help determine the risk of developing heart disease. It is generally seen that people with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level, including a high LDL (bad) level and a low HDL (good) level.
What are the common signs/symptoms when the Triglycerides test is done?
- Shortness of breath
- Pain, fullness, and/or squeezing sensation of the chest
- Jaw pain, toothache, headache
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or general epigastric (upper middle abdomen) discomfort
- Heartburn and/or indigestion
- Arm pain (more commonly the left arm, but may be either arm)
- Upper back pain
- General malaise (vague feeling of illness)
Who should do the Triglycerides test (Target population)?
It may be ordered more frequently for those who have may have risk factors for heart disease such as:
- Age (men 45 years or older or women 55 years or older)
- Overweight or obese people
- Heavy drinkers
- People with a family history of heart disease or health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension),
- People who consume excess of saturated fats - found mostly in animal products and trans-fatty acids -found in fast foods and commercially processed food products.
- Pre-existing heart disease or those who have already had a heart attack
What should I do before the Triglycerides test?
Specimen collection procedure
Preparatory instructions for the test*
(Collection of blood from a vein, usually from the arm)
Fasting samples have to be collected after a minimum 12-14 hour overnight fasting status.
Clear fluids like water is allowed during this period. Refrain from consumption of early morning beverages like tea, coffee and milk until specimen collection is completed.
In case of diabetics on oral or injectable hypoglycemic agents, consult your physician about continuing with these medications prior to specimen collection.
Subjects suffering from any illness or on oral or injectable medications are advised to consult their physician prior to requesting any tests or procedures.
How do I interpret my Triglycerides test results?
Less than n150 mg/dL
Borderline to high
Above 500 mg/dL
Inference: Triglyceride is the most common type of fat in the body. Many people who have heart disease or diabetes have high triglyceride levels. Normal triglyceride levels vary by age and sex. A high triglyceride level combined with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol seems to speed up the risk for developing a heart disease.
‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’
Diseases/conditions related to the Triglycerides test
- Atherosclerotic heart disease
- Familial hyperlipoproteinemia
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Malabsorption syndrome
- Chylomicronemia syndrome
- Familial combined hyperlipidemia
- Familial dysbetalipoproteinemia
- Familial hypertriglyceridemia
- Familial lipoprotein lipase deficiency
- Noninsulin-dependent diabetes (NIDD)
- Stroke secondary to atherosclerosis
Other tests related to the Triglycerides test
- HDL Cholesterol
- Lipid profile
- Apolipoprotein A-1
- Apolipoprotein B (APO-B)
- Cardiac risk profile