7 Dangers of Very High Triglycerides

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Chris Illiades, MD on August 18, 2021
  • Senior man
    The Truth About Triglycerides
    Triglycerides are fats in your blood. Most fatty foods are in the form of triglycerides, but your body itself produces the majority of triglycerides. When you eat too many calories, the extra calories are changed into triglycerides and stored in your fat cells. Triglycerides are measured with a lipid profile. A very high level is 500 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or more.
  • Dangers of Very High Trigylcerides
    Why Medication May Be Needed
    If you have very high triglycerides you will probably need medication, because this level is dangerous. Very high levels can cause fatty deposits in the skin and internal organs. The deposits can damage the liver and pancreas. They can also block blood flow to the heart and brain, causing heart attack or stroke.
  • group of seniors socializing
    Triglycerides and Pancreatitis
    Your pancreas is an important organ in the upper-left part of your belly. It produces digestive juices needed to absorb food. Very high triglycerides can cause swelling of the pancreas. This causes severe belly pain, vomiting, and fever. If digestive juices leak outside the pancreas, it can be life-threatening. Treatment includes weight loss, diet changes, and avoiding alcohol.
  • Type 2 Diabetes
    Triglycerides and Type 2 Diabetes
    Very high triglycerides increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. High triglycerides are part of a condition called metabolic syndrome, which includes high blood pressure, increased belly fat, low HDL (good cholesterol), and high fasting blood sugar. Combined, high triglycerides plus any two of the other conditions, increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by five times.
  • Generations of men
    Triglycerides and Heart Disease
    Having high triglycerides and two other metabolic syndrome conditions doubles the risk for heart disease. Young adults with very high triglycerides have a risk of heart disease that is four times higher than those with slightly elevated triglycerides. The high amount of fats in your blood builds up inside the blood vessels that carry oxygen to the heart muscles.
  • Triglycerides and Stroke
    Triglycerides and Stroke
    Stroke is brain damage caused by a decreased blood supply to the brain cells. Nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year. Elevated triglycerides can restrict bloodflow within the vessels that supply your brain. A recent study found that for older women, high levels of triglycerides are the number one risk factor for stroke.
  • Liver Damage
    Triglycerides and Your Liver
    Fat accumulating in the liver is the most common cause of chronic liver disease. This can lead to permanent scarring of your liver, cancer, and liver failure, which is life threatening. In non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) more than 10 percent of the liver has been replaced by fat. The most common causes for NAFLD are diabetes, obesity, and high triglycerides.
  • hand-on-leg-with-varicose-veins
    Triglycerides and Your Legs
    Too much fat in the blood causes deposits to form in the arteries that flow to the legs, which could lead to peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD can cause pain and numbness in the legs, especially when walking. It also increases the risk of infection in the legs or feet. Metabolic syndrome, including high triglycerides, is one major risk factor for PAD.
  • Triglycerides and Dementia
    Triglycerides and Dementia
    Dementia means loss of brain function. It can affect memory, thinking, language and behavior.  Age is a big risk factor for dementia, but so are very high triglycerides. Research is showing that high triglycerides may damage blood vessels inside the brain and contribute to the build-up of a toxic protein called amyloid.
7 Dangers of Very High Triglycerides

About The Author

  1. Triglycerides: Frequently Asked Questions. American Heart Association. http://my.americanheart.org/idc/groups/ahamah-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_42598...
  2. How Foods Affect Triglycerides. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/triglycerides.aspx)
  3. New Stroke Risk Factor. Albert Einstein College of Medicine. http://www.einstein.yu.edu/news/releases/766/high-triglyceride-levels-found-to-independently-predict... 
  4. Hyperlipidemia. NYU Medical Center. http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=11767
  5. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). University of Illinois Medical Center. http://www.uic.edu/com/dom/hepatology/fatty.liver.disease.html 
  6. Pancreatitis. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/pancreatitis-000122.htm
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Last Review Date: 2021 Aug 18
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