Triglycerides are esters of the trihydric alcohol glycerol with 3 long-chain fatty acids. They are partly synthesized in the liver and partly derived from the diet.
Increased plasma triglyceride levels are indicative of a metabolic abnormality and, along with elevated cholesterol, are considered a risk factor for atherosclerotic disease. Hyperlipidemia may be inherited or be associated with biliary obstruction, diabetes mellitus, nephrotic syndrome, renal failure, or metabolic disorders related to endocrinopathies. Increased triglycerides may also be medication-induced (eg, prednisone).
Evaluation of risk factors in individuals with elevated cholesterol values
Since cholesterol and triglycerides can vary independently, measurement of both is more meaningful than the measurement of cholesterol only.
In the presence of other coronary heart disease risk factors, both borderline high (150-199 mg/dL) and high values (>200 mg/dL) require attention.
Triglyceride concentrations >1,000 mg/dL can lead to abdominal pain and may be life-threatening due to chylomicron-induced pancreatitis.
Also see Lipids and Lipoproteins in Blood Plasma (Serum) in Special Instructions.
No significant cautionary statements
The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) has set the following guidelines for lipids (total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, and LDL cholesterol) in adults ages 18 and up:
Normal: <150 mg/dL
Borderline high: 150-199 mg/dL
High: 200-499 mg/dL
Very high: > or =500 mg/dL
The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has set the following guidelines for lipids (total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, and LDL cholesterol) in children ages 2 to 17:
Normal: <90 mg/dL
Borderline high: 90-129 mg/dL
High: > or =130 mg/dL
Also see age- and sex-adjusted reference values in Triglycerides-Percentile Ranking in Lipids and Lipoproteins in Blood Plasma (Serum) in Special Instructions.
Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature
1. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry. Edited by CA Burtis, ER Ashwood. Philadelphia, WB Saunders Company, 1994
2. Rifai N, Warnick GR: Laboratory Measurements of Lipids, Lipoproteins and Apolipoproteins. AACC Press, Washington, DC, 1994