Triglycerides are one of the main sources of energy for the body. They are stored in our fatty (adipose) tissues. Much of the energy we consume (carbohydrates, fats, etc.) will eventually be stored as triglycerides. Blood triglyceride levels are used primarily to assess the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Triglyceride levels can be monitored in non-fasting patients in normal living conditions. The values on which the interpretation is based are the same as in a fasting patient: there is an increased risk of CVD when non-fasting levels are above normal. The increased risk is on the order of the measured value: a level of 3.0 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) is associated with a three times higher risk of developing CVD. This risk is particularly high in diabetic patients. For the specific monitoring of high triglyceride levels, it may be indicated to be fasting for 12 hours with a 24-hour alcohol restriction in order to decrease the variation caused by the variable content of each meal. Certain medications can increase triglyceride levels. Very high levels (above 10 mmol/L) can lead to acute pancreatitis (painful inflammation of the pancreas).