Triglyceride is a type of fat that is made by the body and is also consumed in certain foods. Any left over calories are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells to be used for energy whenever they are required. The triglyceride level refers to the amount found in the blood and can be tested for in a lab. People whose calorie in take is greater than the body requires will typically have a high triglyceride level.
The triglyceride level test is performed by taking blood from a vein, usually either at the back of the hand or the inner elbow. The area will first be cleaned using antiseptic and then an elastic band will be applied to the upper arm, making the vein more visible and swollen with blood. A needle is then inserted and blood collected in a tube. Anyone who is having a blood test should not eat for 8-12 hours before hand. Inform your doctor if you are taking any supplements or medications as they could interfere with your triglyceride level. Drugs including birth control, estrogens, retinoids, colestipol and some anti-psychotics can all increase the triglyceride level and drugs including ascorbic acid, fenofibrate, fish oil and nicotinic acid can all decrease levels. Being tested whilst pregnant can also cause interference with the results. Some people find the test painful at the moment the needle is inserted but some people just experience slight discomfort or a stinging sensation. There may some throbbing afterwards.
A triglyceride level test is most commonly performed to estimate your LDL cholesterol, which can affect the risk of developing heart disease. A high triglyceride level can also increase the risk of atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease and a stroke. Inflammation of the pancreas is also more likely in someone with a high level of triglyceride. Your doctor will be able to discuss your results with you and inform you as to whether you are at a higher than normal risk of developing such diseases.
There are a number of factors that can cause a high triglyceride level and is most commonly down to another medical condition such as cirrhosis, hypothyroidism, pancreatitis, poorly controlled diabetes and nephritic syndrome. It can also be down to an unbalanced diet, which is too low in protein and too high in carbohydrates. A low triglyceride level may be die to malnutrition, hyperthyroidism, malabsorption syndrome or a diet very low in fat.
There are some potential risks involved when undergoing a triglyceride level test, although it is a very common procedure and risks are rare. Some people have very small or hard to find veins, which can make it hard to obtain blood. Other complications can include excessive bleeding, feeling faint or light headed, infection and hematoma (this is when blood accumulates under the skin).
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