is a specific type of lipid, or fat, composed of a glycerol molecule and three fatty acids. Knowing your triglyceride level is important, but fluctuations among tests drawn at different times or by different laboratories can be confusing.
high fasting triglyceride level is a strong risk factor for coronary heart disease
. High triglycerides are also linked to diabetes and metabolic syndrome
, both of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease
your triglyceride level normally varies up to 30 percent from one day to the next. Any change in your diet during the two weeks prior to your test can increase this "background" fluctuation. If your blood test
is performed after a fast, some of this day-to-day variability is eliminated. Therefore, you should adhere to your usual diet for at least two weeks prior to your test, and you should fast for 12 hours before your blood draw.
, particularly if it is sudden and dramatic, can cause marked changes in your serum triglyceride level. Your weight should be stable for at least two weeks prior to having your triglycerides checked.
Because muscular activity consumes energy molecules -- including fatty acids -- exercise tends to lower your triglyceride levels. Although regular exercise is one way to lower your triglyceride levels, if exercise is not part of your routine, you should avoid it for 24 hours prior to your test. Alcohol consumption, a high-carbohydrate
diet and poorly controlled diabetes can all increase your triglyceride level. Pharmaceutical agents, such as blood pressure medications, diuretics and bile acid binding resins can raise or lower your triglycerides, depending on the agent involved.
The normal daily variation in triglycerides can be nullified to some extent by having your blood drawn in a "steady state" -- no recent changes in activity, diet, weight, alcohol consumption or medications -- following a 12-hour fast.