Triglycerides: 500 mg/dL

What does a triglyceride test result of 500 mean? Are there any symptoms associated with this triglyceride level?

A triglyceride level of 500 mg/dL is considered high. High triglycerides can put you at greater risk for heart disease, and can also be a sign of serious conditions including type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, metabolic syndrome, or hypothyroidism [2].
People with high triglycerides typically don’t have any symptoms, however, extremely high levels (>1000 mg/dL) can cause pancreatitis, acute inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain and tenderness, vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, jaundice, and a high heart rate.
Lowering high triglyceride levels will lower your risk of developing heart disease and other health issues. If you already have heart disease, lowering your triglycerides can reduce your odds of serious complications, like a heart attack or stroke. 

Factors that could contribute to a triglyceride level of 500: 

Several factors can affect triglyceride levels including your diet, weight, physical activity level, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Certain medications and diseases also impact triglyceride levels.
  • Diet: Diets high in fat, added sugar, and refined carbohydrates can increase triglyceride levels.
  • Weight: Excess fat, particularly around the abdomen, can also increase triglycerides.
  • Physical Activity: Being physically active can help lower triglyceride levels.
  • Medications: Certain medicines can raise your triglyceride level including corticosteroids, beta-blockers, thiazide diuretics, antivirals, and estrogen.
  • Some medical conditions: Thyroid, liver, or kidney disease, as well as poorly controlled type 2 diabetes, can change triglyceride levels.
  • Smoking: Smoking is associated with elevated triglycerides.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption: Heavy drinking can also contribute to high triglyceride levels. 

What to do if your triglyceride level is 500?

Changing your diet and adopting healthier habits can help lower your triglyceride level. When it comes to triglyceride levels, lower is better. 
To help reduce your triglycerides:
  • Be physically active for 30-60 minutes 5x/week.
  • Lose weight by limiting your calorie intake.
  • Replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains, and limit added sugars to <25g/day.
  • Limit alcohol consumption to <1-2 drinks per day.
  • Eat healthier fats like those found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and salmon.
  • Avoid trans fats and limit your saturated fat intake to <10% of total calories.
  • Quit smoking.

Medications and supplements used to improve triglyceride results

If diet and lifestyle changes do not lower triglyceride levels enough on their own, prescription medication and/or supplements may help.

Medications

  • Prescription niacin: When taken at prescription doses, niacin (a B vitamin) can lower triglyceride levels and improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It works by blocking the enzyme responsible for making cholesterol in the liver.
  • Fibrates: Fibrates can help lower high triglyceride levels and may also help raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Fibrates work by reducing the liver's production of VLDL (the triglyceride-carrying particle in the blood) and by increasing how quickly triglycerides are removed from the blood.
  • Statins: Statins (including atorvastatin, simvastatin, and rosuvastatin) may be prescribed if your LDL and total cholesterol levels are also high. Statins reduce cholesterol production in your liver and lower blood cholesterol levels. Because they typically need to be taken for life, statins are only prescribed if diet and lifestyle changes aren’t enough [3].

Supplements

  • Fish oil: The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can help lower your triglycerides. Prescription fish oil contains more active fatty acids than many nonprescription supplements but can interfere with blood clotting, so check with a doctor before taking a high-dose supplement.

References

  1. Cholesterol Levels: What You Need to Know. (n.d.). U.S. National Library of Medicine | NIH. Retrieved September 9, 2021, from https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterollevelswhatyouneedtoknow.html
  2. Triglycerides: Why do they matter? (2020, September 29). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/triglycerides/art-20048186
  3. High cholesterol. (n.d.). NHS Inform. Retrieved September 9, 2021, from https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/blood-and-lymph/high-cholesterol
  4. Cholesterol: Types, Tests, Treatments, Prevention. (2020, July 31). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11920-cholesterol-numbers-what-do-they-mean
  5. Blood Cholesterol | NHLBI, NIH. (2021, January 4). National Institutes of Health. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-cholesterol
  6. LDL: The “Bad” Cholesterol. (n.d.). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://medlineplus.gov/ldlthebadcholesterol.html