The triglyceride level is a lab test to measure the amount of triglycerides in your blood. Triglycerides are a type of fat.
Your body makes some triglycerides. Triglycerides also come from the food you eat. Extra calories are turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells for later use. If you eat more calories than your body needs, your triglyceride level may be high.
A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.
How to Prepare for the Test
You should not eat for 8 to 12 hours before the test.
Alcohol and some medicines can interfere with blood test results.
Make sure your doctor knows what medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
Your health care provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines before you have this test.
Do not stop or change your medications without talking to your doctor first.
How the Test will Feel
You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted. You may also feel some throbbing at the site after the blood is drawn.
Why the Test is Performed
The most important use of this test is to help estimate your LDL cholesterol. This test is also done to help assess your risk for heart disease. A high triglyceride level may lead to atherosclerosis. This condition increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. A high triglyceride level may also cause inflammation of your pancreas.
Persons with a high triglyceride level often have other conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, that also increase the risk of getting heart disease.
Malabsorption syndrome (conditions in which the small intestine does not absorb fats well)
Pregnancy can affect test results.
Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults. Executive summary of the third report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) expert panel on detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood cholesterol in adults (Adult Treatment Panel III). JAMA. 2001;285(19):2486-2497.
Grundy SM, et al. Implications of recent clinical trials for the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines. Circulation. 2004 Jul 13; 110(2):227-39.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.