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A to Z: Hypertriglyceridemia

May also be called: High Triglycerides, Familial Hypertriglyceridemia

Hypertriglyceridemia (HY-per-try-GLIS-ur-eye-DEE-mee-uh) is a higher-than-normal level of a type of fat called triglycerides in the blood.

More to Know

When we eat, most of the fat we ingest in things like animal and dairy products and cooking oils is a kind of fat called triglycerides. Our livers can also produce triglycerides when they break down the calories we don’t use right away. These triglycerides are stored in fat cells throughout the body to be used later when we need energy. If someone has a high level of triglycerides in his or her blood, the condition is known as hypertriglyceridemia. Hypertriglyceridemia is a common medical condition that often happens in people who develop heart disease.

For most people, hypertriglyceridemia is the result of an underlying cause, such as a diet high in fat and carbohydrates, an inactive lifestyle, drinking too much alcohol, or another medical condition, such as diabetes or obesity. This is known as secondary hypertriglyceridemia. In some cases, however, children are born with genetic disorders that cause their triglyceride levels to be high. This is called primary, or familial, hypertriglyceridemia. Most of the time, neither type of hypertriglyceridemia produces any symptoms.

Doctors diagnose hypertriglyceridemia by doing a blood test. Treatment for hypertriglyceridemia usually involves eating a healthier diet, cutting down on alcohol intake, and getting more exercise. If lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough, doctors may prescribe medicines to help lower triglyceride levels further.

Keep in Mind

With obesity on the rise, secondary hypertriglyceridemia is becoming more and more common. But by leading a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of aerobic exercise and a diet high in vegetables, fruit, and fish, most people can prevent hypertriglyceridemia in the first place or lower trigylceride levels if they get too high.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.