Triglycerides (TG) Lab Test

Triglycerides (TG)
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Clinical Definition of Triglycerides

A triglyceride is a form of fat made in the body. It is an ester derived from glycerol and three fatty acids and is the main constituent of vegetable oil and animal fats. The main source of triglycerides is from the food that is consumed. However, the fat and liver cells of our body also make some triglycerides. When food is eaten, the body uses carbohydrate calories for immediate energy.

The leftover calories are then turned into triglycerides and stored in fat cells for later use. If a person consumes more calories than what the body needs, it may result in high levels of triglyceride. High levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream have been linked to atherosclerosis, diabetes, pancreatitis and a high risk of other heart diseases and stroke. Elevated levels of triglycerides are mainly due to obesity, physical inactivity; cigarette smoking, excess alcohol consumption and a diet very high in carbohydrates. Hence it is generally seen that high triglycerides are mainly a lifestyle-related risk factor.

 

Can we test triglycerides level in our blood at home?

Various types of home test kits are available in the market today. One of the most commonly used home triglyceride test kit includes a lancet to prick your finger and collect the blood sample. This is then placed on a chemically treated paper that reacts with the blood. Some of the other home test kits could include portable machines to give readings. Most of these kits give the total blood cholesterol readings, but there are kits that give a breakup of HDL and LDL as well. If you wish to go for the home test kit ensure that you choose a brand that is FDA approved. Also, follow the instructions exactly as mentioned on the kit. Failing to do so might alter the results of the test.

 

Why do I need this test?

The test is an important diagnostic tool that helps in determining if there is any developing heart disease. The triglyceride level is a laboratory test to measure the number of triglycerides in the blood. It is typically included as a part of the lipid panel which also checks total cholesterol, HDL, VLDL and LDL levels to help determine the risk of developing heart disease. It is generally seen that people with high triglycerides often have a high total cholesterol level, including a high LDL (bad) level and a low HDL (good) level. Hence it is important to undergo the test to know your triglyceride numbers. If you are above 20 years of age, it is always advisable to keep track of your triglyceride level.

When do you expect results?

24 to 36 Hours

 

Reason to take Triglycerides (TG) Test

• Upper back pain Nausea,

• vomiting, and general epigastric (upper middle abdomen)

• discomfort 

• Difficulty in breathing

• Headaches

• Pain, fullness, and/or squeezing sensation of the chest

• Jaw pain, toothache, headache

• Hypertension

• Sweating

• Arm pain (common on the left arm, but may be either arm)

• General malaise Heartburn 

• and/or indigestion

 

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Generally, the triglycerides test is prescribed as a part of the lipid profile for the patient. The lipid profile also includes tests that help determine the HDL and LDL in the blood.

 

Sample Required?

Specimen type: Serum (Blood Sample), Specimen collection procedure: Venipuncture - Collection of blood from a vein, usually from the arm.

 

What do my test results mean?

The results of the triglycerides blood test are generally measured in mg/dl. The triglycerides normal range is classified as per the below mentioned categories.

 

What is Triglycerides Test?

After gaining knowledge of what are triglycerides, it is important to understand the nuances of the triglycerides test. The test helps in the measurement of the number of triglycerides present in the blood. It helps in maintaining overall heart health by a timely diagnosis of the high levels of triglycerides in the blood. The test is generally prescribed as a part of the lipid profile.

 

When do you expect results?

24 to 36 Hours

 

Does this test pose any risk?

The test does not have any significant risks; you only feel a small sting when the needle goes inside. This might result in slight pain or bruising that sometimes that goes away with time.

 

What might affect my test results?

There are certain medications that might hamper your test result. Some of these include ascorbic acid, beta-blockers, clofibrate, estrogens, fish oil etc. If you are taking any such medication, it is mandatory to inform your doctor about the test.

 

How do I prepare for the test?

1. Fasting Required

2. Fasting samples have to be collected after a minimum 12-14 hour overnight fasting status.

3. Clear fluids like water are allowed during this period. Refrain from consumption of early morning beverages like tea, coffee and milk until specimen collection is completed.

4. In case of diabetics on oral or injectable hypoglycemic agents, consult your physician about continuing with these medications before specimen collection.

 

What are the causes and symptoms of high triglyceride levels in blood?

The high triglycerides causes can be attributed to either lifestyle habits or certain medical conditions. Former includes habits like smoking, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle or eating diet that is high in carbohydrates. Medical conditions causing high triglyceride levels include genetic factors, cirrhosis, hyperlipidemia, nephrotic syndrome or kidney disease and pancreatitis. While the low triglyceride levels may be caused by malnutrition, hyperthyroidism, a low-fat diet and malabsorption syndrome. Other than what causes high triglycerides it is also important to understand the high triglycerides symptoms so that the test could be carried out in time. Some of the warning signs or high triglycerides symptoms include

1. Fatty deposits under the skin.

2. A condition called pancreatitis with symptoms like severe belly pain, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing etc.

3. Some of the other warning signs include confusion, blurred vision, dizziness, severe headache caused by the decreased blood supply to the brain.

 

What is the treatment for high triglycerides?

High triglycerides treatment can be accomplished with medication, changes in diet and also lifestyle changes. Some of the steps that can significantly reduce high triglyceride levels include

1. Cutting back on saturated fats and including good carbs in the diet

2. Limiting alcohol consumption and completely stopping smoking

3. Regular exercise also helps to boost the HDL levels in the blood

4. Lastly, losing weight also helps drive down the triglyceride levels to a great extent

 

How is this test done?

The test is performed by drawing the blood sample from one of the veins in your arm by inserting a small needle. The blood is then collected in a vial or a test tube and sent to the lab for further analysis. The test is ideally completed in less than 5 minutes.

 

Understanding results of Triglycerides (TG)

Reference RangeInterpretation
150-199 mg/dLBorderline to high
200-499mg/dLHigh
Less than n150 mg/dLNormal
Above 500 mg/dLVery high

Inference: Triglyceride is the most common type of fat in the body. Many people who have heart disease or diabetes have high triglyceride levels. Normal triglyceride levels vary by age and sex. A high triglyceride level combined with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol seems to speed up the risk for developing a heart disease.

‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’

Conclusion

With the hectic and stressful lifestyles it is important to get your triglyceride levels checked at regular intervals. The tests are carried out in all major hospitals and diagnostic centres. The triglycerides test cost might vary depending upon where the tests are carried out. If you are above 20 years of age, it is important that you get your triglyceride and lipid profile done as a part of your routine health checks.

References

  1. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/triglycerides
  2. http://www.cardiosmart.org/Healthwise/hw20/7814/hw207814