In May 2001, the new guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program state that having high triglyceride levels, even with no other risk factors, puts you at risk for coronary heart disease. People with high triglycerides often have low HDL levels. Since that's the good cholesterol, low levels increase the risk of heart disease. Some people have extremely high triglycerides, such as above 1,000 mg/dL. According to The American Heart Association, those people often have genetic disorders. Or they may have other underlying conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, or alcohol abuse. Even triglyceride levels of 500 mg/dL or above can cause a serious, painful inflammation of the pancreas, called pancreatitis.

Use the chart below to find out what the triglyceride results from your fasting cholesterol test mean. Look in the left column for the number that your doctor told you. Then read across the rows to see how health specialists define your range and what it means in terms of your risk for heart disease.

How Triglyerides Impact Your Risk of Heart Disease

Triglyceride Number What Range Your Numbers Fall In How Your Numbers Impact Your Risk Less than 150 mg/dL Normal You want your numbers to be in this range to keep your risk for heart disease low. 150 to 199 mg/dL Borderline High Your levels are higher than they should be. 200 to 499 mg/dL High Your levels are too high and are putting you at increased risk for developing heart disease or complications from heart disease. 500 mg/dL or higher Very High Your levels are very unhealthy and require intensive action to lower them.

If your triglycerides are high, your doctor will talk with you about how to bring them to lower, more healthy levels. SeeWhat Does It Mean If I Have High Triglycerides? to recall what raises your levels.