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Causes and symptoms High triglycerides

Causes and symptoms High triglycerides

In popular thinking, high triglycerides in the blood are associated with a diet very high in fat content. However it is not always so. The origins of the altered result may be linked to other factors.

Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with high triglycerides, don't panic. The root of the problem must be investigated with the doctor to address it correctly.

What are triglycerides?

Triglyceride is a type of lipid that circulates in human blood and is present in some tissues of the body composition. It is not a foreign or foreign substance, but its elevation in the plasma causes problems.

In normal metabolism, this fat is a reserve energy source. When ingested with food, lipid cells, called adipocytes, lock the triglycerides inside to use them when the time comes.

In situations that require more caloric expenditure, such as very prolonged exercise or cold winter seasons, the body uses these reserves to generate heat. It is not a mechanism exclusive to humans, but many animals use it in the same way.

Although each laboratory has its biochemical parameters with which it establishes normality, there are certain values ​​that are considered appropriate. High triglycerides are diagnosed when they exceed a concentration of 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood.

This high concentration is associated with greater cardiovascular risk, with an increased chance of suffering from acute myocardial infarction and stroke. Above 200 milligrams per deciliter is considered very high, and beyond 500 it is extremely careful.

Causes of high triglycerides

High triglycerides have an unhealthy diet as one of their main causes, but this is not the only origin. Sedentary lifestyle, genetics and some systemic diseases are related to the disorder.


When it comes to diet, it is saturated fats and trans fats that raise cholesterol and triglycerides. The former also increase bad cholesterol or LDL.

Saturated fats are concentrated, above all, in dairy animal products, such as cheese, milk and butter. Red meat also provides large amounts of triglycerides, particularly the leaner cuts.

On the other hand, trans fats have a double negative effect, which consists of a decrease in good cholesterol and an increase in those that clog the arteries. They are mainly found in products that have been subjected to hydrogenation during their manufacturing.

The pathologies most associated with an increase in blood triglycerides are the following:

  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Diabetes.
  • Renal insufficiency.
  • Lifestyle

Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle are known risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. To a large extent, the problem lies in the increase in triglycerides and cholesterol that occurs when the person does not do any sport.

If we add to this bad habits such as tobacco or alcoholism, the risk increases. There is even research that shows how the mother's lifestyle can alter lipid levels in her babies during pregnancy.


Beyond the disease called "familial hypercholesterolemia", for which the genetic basis is clear, high triglycerides alone do not escape the influence of heredity. When parents or grandparents have suffered from the disorder, it is more likely that their children and grandchildren will also have it.

There are no symptoms, there are complications

High triglycerides do not manifest with specific symptoms. No headache, no chest discomfort, no arrhythmias, no fatigue. No sign can be attributed to the increase of these substances in the blood.

What we do find are complications derived from the disorder. That represents a big problem for the medical clinic. Sometimes, the patient comes to an emergency consultation due to a coronary event derived from his high triglycerides, and he did not know it.

Its elevation should be suspected and the blood lipid value monitored in obese people, in those with a family history, and in those with other cardiac risk factors, such as hypertensive patients and diabetics.

In any case, a detection of a normal value does not rule out the probability of heart attack or stroke in people with other comorbidities.

What to do if triglycerides are high?

It is possible to take measures to lower triglyceride values ​​in the blood when a high number is detected. If necessary, the doctor will prescribe a specific drug, such as statins.

In any case, international guidelines and scientific studies on the matter agree that if statins are not combined with a change in lifestyle, the effect will not be lasting. Among the modifications that are prescribed are the following:

  • Reduce the amount of saturated fats and trans fats in the diet.
  • Perform regular physical exercise.
  • Reduce sedentary lifestyle at work by incorporating active breaks.

If nothing is sufficient, or the values ​​detected exceed 500 milligrams per deciliter, treatment must be combined with drugs other than statins. It is possible to receive indications to consume fibrates, niacin or omega 3 supplements, as indicated by the consensus of the Spanish Atherosclerosis Society.

In any case, high triglycerides are an alert that no one should ignore. Its silent presence represents a latent risk that, fortunately, can be controlled if there is timely detection.

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