Triglycerides are fats present in the blood. The cells that make up the adipose tissue are stored inside the adipocytes as an energy reserve. To satisfy its “reserve” energy needs, the organism itself, through a complex mechanism, converts the fats and sugars it consumes into triglycerides.
When excessive amounts of fat and sugar are ingested, triglycerides will also be higher. High values of triglycerides in the blood are an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases: they can promote the onset of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.
A blood test is sufficient to determine the level of circulating triglycerides (triglyceridemia). To obtain a reliable triglyceride value, fasting should be maintained for 12 hours prior to blood collection and a light meal taken the evening before.
Triglyceridemia is generally between 50 and 150 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) in healthy subjects. The “optimum” value is considered to be below 100 mg/dl.
Triglycerides below 150 mg/dl are considered ‘normal’.
Triglycerides between 150 and 200 mg/dl shall be considered to be borderline
Triglycerides between 200 and 400 mg/dl shall be considered as “high”, and higher than 400 mg/dl are considered “very high”.
In order to fully assess the cardiovascular risk of a subject, the determination of triglyceride levels is accompanied by an evaluation of total cholesterol and its fractions (HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, more commonly known as “good” and “bad” cholesterol respectively).