What Causes High Triglycerides

Posted on

Previously published on Answers.com.

High triglycerides can be dangerous, particularly when they exist alongside troubling cholesterol levels. Since high triglycerides along with a cholesterol issue may point to an elevated risk of heart disease, it’s important to know what causes high triglycerides and what can be done to reduce triglycerides.

What Is A Normal Triglyceride Level?

Triglyceride levels lower than 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered normal. Borderline high triglycerides are 150-199 mg/dL. A triglyceride measurement above 200 mg/dL is considered high, and over 500 mg/dL is very or dangerously high. For more information, see the American Heart Association site.

Why Do Triglyceride Levels Matter?

High triglycerides can contribute to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and can be a signal of other medical conditions – like metabolic syndrome – which elevate heart disease risk. The Mayo Clinic’s Why High Triglycerides Matter article explains, “Sometimes high triglycerides are a sign of poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), liver or kidney disease, or rare genetic conditions that affect how your body converts fat to energy. High triglycerides could also be a side effect of taking medications such as beta blockers, birth control pills, diuretics, steroids or the breast cancer drug tamoxifen.”

What Are The Symptoms of High Triglycerides?

As with high cholesterol, there are no symptoms of high triglycerides. Having a full lipid panel done on a regular basis is the only way to know if your cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels are at goal or too high.

What Causes High Triglycerides?

Though many factors can contribute to high triglycerides, there are three key watch outs: eating too much refined sugar, consuming a lot of high-carbohydrate foods, and drinking too much alcohol. If your diet is high in processed foods and/or you have more than one drink per day, you are more likely to suffer from high triglycerides. Dr. Andrew Weil explains, “High triglyceride levels can be genetic, and may be related to obesity or untreated diabetes, but dietary influences are strong. Carbohydrates in the diet are the main factor affecting their levels in the blood, especially quick-digesting (high glycemic load) carbs.” 

How Can Triglycerides Be Lowered?

Though some may be genetically predisposed to high triglycerides, often high triglycerides can be lowered with lifestyle changes. The American Heart Association advises, “The main therapy to reduce triglyceride levels is to change your lifestyle. This means control your weight, eat a heart-healthy diet, get regular physical activity, avoid tobacco smoke, limit alcohol to one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men and limit beverages and foods with added sugars.” 

Are There Medications To Lower Triglycerides?

Lifestyle changes are the first order of attack for lowering triglycerides. However, as the Mayo Clinic explains, “If healthy lifestyle changes aren’t enough to control high triglycerides, your doctor may recommend medications that can help further lower your triglycerides. Usually, the focus of therapy is to lower high levels of the “bad” cholesterol (LDL cholesterol), before addressing high triglyceride levels.”

Fish Oil supplements are often ‘prescribed’ (over-the-counter or prescription) to lower triglycerides and/or cholesterol. The Mayo Clinic explains, “You can take over-the-counter supplements, or your doctor may prescribe a prescription omega-3 fatty acid supplement (Lovaza, Vascepa), as a way to lower your triglycerides.” 


Many people can lower high triglycerides without medication, through regular (frequent) exercise, a shift in diet to avoid processed, high-sugar, high-carbohydrate foods, and limiting alcohol.


Omega-3 Fish Oil supplements available over-the-counter can help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. Of course, you should check with your doctor before starting any over-the-counter supplements, but if you have high triglycerides, ask your doctor about fish oil supplements.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *