Triglycerides are a form of fat mostly found in fat tissue (adipose tissue). It is also an important source of energy especially in between meals. After meals the levels of triglycerides in the blood increase as the body converts excess energy into fat. These molecules move between the gut and the adipose tissue and are mostly carried by LDL-cholesterol.
This test measures the amount of triglycerides in the blood during a fasting period. High fasting levels are associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease (Cardiovascular risk). Other factors e.g. smoking, limited exercise, high amount of alcohol consumption as well as medical conditions like obesity, diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease can contribute to high levels of triglycerides and associated risk.
The test for triglycerides forms part of a lipid profile (lipogram) to help predict the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and determine treatment. The lipid profile (which includes Total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides) is used to monitor the effectiveness of and or response to therapy.
Cholesterol testing should be done in all adults with no known risk factors at least once every four years as part of a general risk assessment for cardiovascular complications.
Cholesterol testing should be done more frequent, often bi-annually when a person has one or more risk factors cardiovascular disease which may include:
Adolescents and children
Screening for abnormal cholesterol is recommended between 9 - 12 years and 17 - 22 years of age. More frequent screening is indicated for those at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and complications similar to adults.
Testing may be performed at more frequent intervals as part of monitoring therapy (lipid-lowering lifestyle changes e.g. exercise and dietary changes and specific medication known as lipid-lowering agents/ statins)
For patients who start on medical therapy it is recommended to do the lipogram test after 4 - 12 weeks and again at 3 months to determine effect.
Monitoring may be guided by the medical practitioner who prescribed the therapy.