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Alternative Names Return to topTriacylglycerol test
Definition Return to top
The triglyceride level is a laboratory 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. When you eat, your body uses calories for immediate energy. Leftover 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.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.
Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
You should not eat for 8 to 12 hours before the test.
Certain drugs may affect test results. Make sure your doctor knows what medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements. Your doctor may tell you to temporarily stop taking certain medicines. Never stop taking any medicine without first talking to your doctor.
Drugs that can increase triglyceride measurements include cholestyramine, estrogens, and birth control pills.
Drugs that can decrease triglyceride measurements include ascorbic acid, asparaginase, clofibrate, colestipol, fenofibrate, fish oil, gemfibrozil, nicotinic acid, and statin medications.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
This test is often done to determine your risk of developing heart disease. A high triglyceride level may lead to atherosclerosis, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Persons with high triglycerides often have other conditions such as diabetes and obesity that also increase the chances of developing heart disease.
The triglyceride level is usually included in a coronary risk (lipid) profile.
Normal Results Return to top
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
High triglyceride levels may be due to:
Low triglyceride levels may be due to:
Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:
Risks Return to top
Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another, and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others. Other risks may include:
Considerations Return to top
Pregnancy can interfere with test results.
References Return to top
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.Update Date: 1/23/2008 Updated by: Glenn Gandelman, MD, MPH, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.