High Triglycerides: Causes, Risks & How to Lower it

This article is reviewed by experts.

High Triglycerides Causes

Triglycerides are lipids, or fats, that move through the bloodstream. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body. Triglycerides come from extra calories that your body does not need right away and are only released by your body when it needs energy. 

While normal levels of triglycerides do not pose much of a risk, high levels of triglyceride in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease, cause a stroke, and have many other complications. In this blog,  we will explore the causes of high triglyceride levels, and know about some of its risk factors.

Difference Between Triglycerides and Cholesterol

The major difference between Triglycerides and Cholesterol is that Triglycerides store unused calories and provide your body with energy when it needs it; whereas Cholesterol is required to build cells and certain hormones. Here’s more about Triglycerides and Cholesterol and their functioning, in detail:

  • Triglycerides are a type of fat known as ‘lipids’, that circulate in your blood. They make up the majority of the fat in your body. Foods like butter, oils, and other fats include triglycerides. Triglycerides are stored by unused calories that the body does not immediately need, in fat cells. Triglycerides are released when your body needs energy. While certain triglycerides are essential to maintain health, however, elevated blood triglyceride levels can increase your risk of stroke and heart disease.
  • Cholesterol is a lipid that has several uses. It is necessary for the structure and functionality of cell membranes in vertebrates. Bile salts, oxysterols, and steroid hormones—metabolites of cholesterol—perform vital biological tasks. Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream through proteins, known as “lipoproteins”; however there are 2 types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol through the body: 
  1. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) Cholesterol: Also known as “bad cholesterol” makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. It is known as bad cholesterol as high levels of LDL can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. 
  2. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) Cholesterol: Is known as “good cholesterol” that absorbs cholesterol in the blood and carries it back to the liver. High levels of HDL can decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease. 

The Causes of High Triglycerides Levels 

Diabetes Mellitus

A study found a close association between diabetes mellitus and triglycerides. The study showed that those who had high levels of triglycerides were more susceptible to diabetes and impaired fasting glucose levels. The overall consensus of the study is that people with diabetes are more likely to have high levels of triglycerides. This is because diabetes can lead to insulin resistance, which can also lead to high triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.

Cardiovascular Diseases 

High triglyceride levels have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, even after controlling for other risk factors such as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Elevated levels of triglycerides can occur due to various factors such as genetics, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, poorly controlled diabetes, and certain medications. These high levels have been associated with the formation of plaque in the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to heart attacks or strokes. [8]

Metabolic Syndrome

A metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that, when present, increase the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood, can be elevated in people who have metabolic syndrome. High triglyceride levels are considered signs of metabolic syndrome, along with other factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess body fat around the waist. [6]


Obesity can lead to elevated triglyceride levels in the bloodstream, which can have serious health consequences. Triglycerides, derived from dietary fats, are a type of fat present in the blood. Consuming excessive calories, especially from unhealthy sources like sugary beverages and fatty foods, results in surplus energy being converted into triglycerides and stored as harmful fat within the body. Hence it is important to maintain a healthy weight.[4]

Genetic Factors

A person’s risk to high triglycerides is heavily influenced by genetics. Certain genetic disorders can have an immediate impact on the body’s ability to produce or break down triglycerides, resulting in elevated levels in the bloodstream.
Familial hypertriglyceridemia is an example of such a disorder that is inherited from one or both parents. This condition is caused by a mutation in the genes that regulate triglyceride metabolism. As a result, affected individuals may have impaired triglyceride clearance from the blood, resulting in triglyceride accumulation and subsequent elevation. [2], [3]

Lifestyle Habits 

Studies have shown that those with poor lifestyle habits such as lack of exercise, bad eating habits, overeating, and sedentary lifestyles are more likely to be prone to high triglyceride levels. To cure this problem and to avoid the risks of high triglycerides, doctors suggest patients reduce body weight and regulate their lifestyle. [7]

Risks Factors of High Triglyceride 

High triglyceride levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. Here are some of the risks of high triglyceride levels:

Gestational Diabetes 

Studies have shown that high triglyceride to HDL-C ratios are associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes and delivering large-for-gestational-age infants When a woman has gestational diabetes, high triglyceride levels can be concerning. Pregnant women who have gestational diabetes experience high blood sugar levels as a result of their condition. After childbirth, it usually goes away. It is typically diagnosed in the second or third trimester. High triglyceride levels, on the other hand, can increase the risks for both the mother and the foetus. [9]

What are Normal and High Triglyceride Levels

Typically, triglyceride levels are determined as: 

Healthy (Normal): Less than 90 mg/dL for children and teenagers (ages 10 to 19); less than 150 mg/dL for adults 

Borderline High: Between 150–199 mg/dL

High: Between  200-499 mg/dL

Very High: Above 500 mg/dL

What are the Symptoms of High Triglyceride Levels

High triglyceride levels are more than 1500 mg/dL. This causes the body to stop breaking down fats leading to symptoms like:

  1. Short-term memory loss
  2. Swelling of the liver and spleen
  3. Stomach pain
  4. Reddening or flushing of the skin

How Often Should you Get Triglyceride Tests

For healthy adults, it is advisable to take a lipoprotein profile taste every 5 years. There is a triglycerides test in that profile. Individuals with diabetes, a family history of high cholesterol, or other heart diseases should get a triglycerides test more frequently. (12)

Joint Effect With Other Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels

Research has shown that baseline triglyceride and lipoprotein cholesterol levels work together to predict the likelihood of cardiac diseases in a person. For instance, people with normal triglyceride and HDL levels are less likely to develop coronary heart disease than people with high triglyceride and low HDL levels. [10]


In conclusion, triglycerides are primarily derived from extra-calorie fats that circulate in the bloodstream. Triglycerides are common, but high levels can cause heart disease, stroke, and other problems. Genetic factors, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and poor lifestyle choices are some of the causes of high triglyceride levels. These elements can increase the risk of gestational diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and joint effects with other cholesterol levels. To keep your heart healthy, it’s essential to control these factors.


What are Triglycerides and Why are They Important?

Triglycerides are blood fats that result from consuming too many calories. They act as a store of energy that is released when the body requires fuel. High levels, however, can raise your risk of heart disease and other illnesses.

Does Genetic Contribute to High Triglyceride Levels?

A person’s susceptibility to high triglycerides can be influenced by genetic factors. Triglyceride levels rise in the blood as a result of certain inherited disorders that interfere with the body’s ability to process them.

How Does Obesity Affect the Level of Triglycerides in the Blood?

Triglyceride levels may rise as a result of obesity. Consuming too many calories, especially from unhealthful sources, causes the body to convert the extra energy into triglycerides, which can then be stored as dangerous fat.

What Ties Do High Triglyceride Levels Have to Diabetes?

Diabetes and high triglyceride levels are closely related. Diabetes-related insulin resistance can contribute to high triglycerides, which raises the risk of heart disease and its complications.

How Often Should Diabetes Patients with High Triglycerides Get Their Lipid Levels Checked?

Adults with diabetes ought to undergo an annual assessment of their lipid levels, as recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). This practice is rooted in the fact that elevated triglyceride levels contribute to an increased susceptibility to heart ailments, a concern that is particularly pertinent considering the heightened cardiovascular risks faced by individuals with diabetes.

In situations where triglyceride levels prove to be elevated, a medical practitioner could propose more frequent monitoring. The frequency of these assessments is subject to variation based on individualized risk factors and the response to treatment.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general information and not meant to substitute any medical advice. Please consult your doctor for appropriate medical consultation.


  1. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/high-blood-triglycerides#:~:text=Triglycerides%20are%20a%20type%20of,does%20not%20need%20right%20away.
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459368/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556024/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218759/
  5. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/104/4/1211/5167372
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8775991/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7078082/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8836866/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25665068/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5360283/
  11. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/ldl_hdl.htm 
  12. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/high-blood-triglycerides#:~:text=Your%20healthcare%20provider%20will%20order,profile%20includes%20a%20triglycerides%20test.

Dr. Shankar Rao

Dr. Rao has achieved great success in his career, with 5 research projects and 4 books to his credit, as well as a Monograph. In addition to receiving the Bharat Scout & Guide Award from the President of India, Dr Rao has also won the Young Scientist Award from S.V. University, Tirupati.


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