Triglycerides are one of the types of fats (lipids) transported in the bloodstream. Most of the body's fat is also stored in the tissues as triglycerides. Triglyceride blood levels are commonly measured along with other lipid levels, such as cholesterol.
Triglycerides are also present in foods like vegetable oils and animal fats. The triglycerides in our blood are a mixture of triglycerides obtained from dietary sources and triglycerides produced by the body as sources of energy.
Elevated triglyceride levels can be caused by a variety of disease processes. Elevated triglyceride levels are considered to be a risk factor for developing hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) because many of the triglyceride-containing lipoproteins that transport fat in the bloodstream also transport cholesterol, a known contributor to atherosclerosis. Often, elevated triglyceride levels are present along with elevated cholesterol levels. This condition is referred to as a mixed hyperlipidemia.
Triglyceride levels in the blood are measured by a blood test. Fasting for 8 to 12 hours before the test is required, since recent eating and digestion can often cause the results to be temporarily elevated.
Triglycerides can be measured as part of a lipoprotein panel or lipid panel in which cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) are also measured.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/29/2014
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