Risks associated with high level of Triglycerides
- By Dr. Arijit Ghosh
The significance of blood triglyceride level is as follows:
- Less than 150 mg/dL is considered normal.
- 150 to 199 mg/dL is considered as borderline high.
- 200 to 499 mg/dL is considered as high.
- More than 500 mg/dL is considered very high.
Triglyceride level in blood is measured as a part of lipid profile test. The lipid profile test also estimates LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, VLDL-cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels in blood. All the values are interpreted together to assess the presence or risk of heart diseases.
High levels of triglycerides
Increased blood triglycerides level is known as hypertriglyceridemia. This condition affects the arteries, blood vessels carrying blood from the heart to different parts of the body.
The triglycerides join other substances and deposits in the inner wall of arteries to make the arteries hardened and thickened. Thickened arteries may lead to occlusion of the arteries and increase the risk of stroke, heart diseases like high blood pressure, heart attack, etc.
Hypertriglyceridemia and diseases
Pancreas secretes digestive juices required for digestion and absorption of food. Very high level of triglycerides is associated with swelling of pancreas leading to its infection. Pancreatitis is characterized by severe pain in the abdomen accompanied by fever and vomiting. Severe pancreatitis can be life-threatening.
Hypertriglyceridemia increases the risk of diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by high blood pressure, high level of blood sugar, excess body fat and abnormal cholesterol level in blood.
- Increased triglycerides are associated with high blood pressure. Increased resistance of blood flow through thickened arteries is responsible for high blood pressure.
- Excess fat is deposited in tissues of the heart. Thus risk of heart attack is increased by several folds.
Decreased blood supply to the brain increases the risk of stroke. Deposition of fat to the arteries supplying blood to the brain leads to thickening and narrowing of the arteries. This leads to the deficient blood supply to the brain.
Accumulation of excess fat in the liver may lead to chronic liver diseases.
Dementia refers to decreased functions of the brain. It affects memory, language, and thinking of a person. High triglycerides may damage blood vessels inside the brain and contribute to deposition of the toxic protein called as amyloid.
Excess fat may deposit in the arteries of the legs and decrease blood supply to the surrounding areas. It may lead to changes associated with deficient blood supply to that region. This clinical condition is known as peripheral vascular disease. Increased triglycerides are one of the important risk factors.
Hypertriglyceridemia increases the risk of different diseases by several folds, especially in elderly individuals. Therefore, periodic evaluation of lipid profile is essential in elderly individuals. Any abnormality of lipid profile should be evaluated and treated adequately to decrease the risk of other diseases.