The human body contains reserved lipids, triglyceride. The majority of this lipid (fat) is in the fatty tissue but some circulates in the blood, providing energy to muscles, for example. The amount of triglycerides increases after you eat because the fats contained in the food are absorbed from the gut for storage.
When should triglyceride be measured?
- Elevated blood pressure
- Low amount of exercise
- Smoking and genes increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Triglyceride is measured to estimate the magnitude of the risk. The test is often carried out in connection with a health examination. Triglycerides alone do not indicate the risks. They are usually measured as part of blood lipids or fats (total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides).
What does a triglyceride test measure?
Triglycerides are the fat reserve of the body. The body gets triglycerides from two sources: from food and by producing them itself. The fat contained in food (oils, milk fat, butter, fat in animal meat) is mainly triglyceride fat, which is broken down in the small intestine and absorbed into the bloodstream. Our cells, especially liver cells, can also produce triglycerides. The body transforms the excess energy from carbohydrates and proteins into triglycerides, which are stored in fat cells. The term ‘triglyceride’ comes from Greek words ‘tri’ for three and ‘glykys’ for ‘sweet’.
Blood triglycerides are measured after fasting overnight. Normally, the level of triglycerides in the plasma is below 2.0 millimoles per litre. If the triglyceride value exceeds this threshold, the condition is called hypertriglyceridaemia. That means excess blood triglycerides.
How to interpret the triglyceride test result?
The recommended target value is < 1.7 mmol/l
With regard to triglycerides, target values are used instead of regular reference values.
Please contact your doctor or other health care professional if you suspect an illness or need help interpreting the results.
What can cause elevated triglyceride values?
Elevated triglyceride values occur when the liver produces higher than normal levels of triglycerides or their elimination from blood is slow. Below is a list of typical situations.
- The most common cause is abdominal obesity and the related fatty liver, associated with disturbances of fat metabolism in the liver
- High amount of fast carbohydrates (sugar, light grain products) in the diet
- High alcohol consumption. Drinking a lot of alcohol has a negative effect on liver metabolism.
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Hormone replacement therapy (oestrogen) and some antihypertensive drugs can increase the concentration.
Dyslipidaemia is a condition where the blood LDL cholesterol level is elevated (above 3.0 mmol/l), triglyceride concentration is elevated (above 2 mmol/l), HDL cholesterol is low (below 1.0 mmol/l in men, below 1.2 mmol/l in women) or a combination of these.
What can cause low triglyceride values?
- Fat malabsorption from the intestine
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
The most typical additional tests for triglyceride:
Comprehensive picture of lipid values (2245 fS-Lipids)
LDL cholesterol reflects the risk of cardiovascular diseases (2099 fS-Kol-LDL)
Low HDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease (2097 fS-Kol-HDL)
The risk of coronary artery disease increases as total cholesterol increases (2095 fS-Kol)
Duodecim terveyskirjasto (health library): Mustajoki P. Veren triglyseridit (rasvat) (Blood triglycerides)
SYNLAB: Triglycerides (2770 fS-Trigly, 4568 fP-Trigly) https://www2.synlab.fi/laboratoriokasikirja/tutkimuskuvaukset/triglyseridit/
Potilaan lääkärilehti (Patient's Medical Journal) 2015: Nykopp J. Kolesteroliarvo kertoo elintavoistasi (Cholesterol value reflects your lifestyle)
Fasting is not required
This examination does not require fasting