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What does it mean if I have high triglycerides?

A normal triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/dL. The May 2001 guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program say that high triglyceride levels put you at risk for developing heart disease. High levels are also often linked with the following:

  • Other risk factors for heart disease. This includes diabetes.
  • A decrease in the size of LDL packages. These smaller, denser packages are called VLDL for very-low-density lipoprotein. They may contribute to a faster buildup of plaque in your arteries.

In addition, a triglyceride level over 500 mg/dL can increase your risk for developing inflammation of the pancreas, called pancreatitis. This painful condition requires hospitalization.

What Might Raise My Triglyceride Level?

These lifestyle factors may raise your levels:

  • being overweight
  • being inactive
  • smoking
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • eating a diet too high in carbohydrates

These conditions may also raise your levels:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • certain types of kidney disease
  • some types of hereditary lipid diseases

These medicines may raise your levels:

  • corticosteroids
  • estrogens
  • retinoids, which are medicines that can be used to treat acne, psoriasis, and other skin problems
  • higher doses of beta-adrenergic blocking agents

If you have a high triglyceride level, talk with your doctor about what might be causing it and what you can do about it. To learn more see, What Tests Might I Need? and What Does My Triglyceride Level Mean?