Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.

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Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(9):1372

See related article on hypertriglyceridemia.

What is hypertriglyceridemia?

Hypertriglyceridemia (HIGH-pur-try-gliss-er-eye-DEEM-ee-uh) is when you have too much fat in your blood. This fat is called triglycerides. People with high triglycerides usually do not have symptoms. Sometimes it causes heart and liver problems. Hypertriglyceridemia also can cause pancreatitis (pan-kree-uh-TITE-iss), which causes bad stomach pain. If you have pancreatitis, you should go to the hospital.

Who gets it?

You can have hypertriglyceridemia at any age. It can run in families. You are more likely to get it if you eat unhealthy foods, smoke, or are overweight. Some medicines (for example, birth control or hormone pills) may cause it. If you have other health problems, like diabetes or thyroid disease, you also may have hypertriglyceridemia.

How can my doctor tell if I have it?

Your doctor can give you a blood test to check for high triglyceride levels. This test is usually part of a cholesterol test. Talk to your doctor if you are worried about high triglycerides.

How is it treated?

If you have hypertriglyceridemia, you should get 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week (such as walking, jogging, swimming, or bike riding). You also should eat a diet low in saturated fat and sugar (such as baked fish; reduced fat products; and food cooked with vegetable, canola, or olive oil). Don't drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day. Don't smoke or use tobacco.

Your doctor may give you medicine. Ask your doctor what the best treatment choice is for you.

Where can I get more information?

  • Palo Alto Medical Foundation

    Web site:http://www.pamf.org/Nutrition/triglycerides.html

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