Occasionally, you may see high triglycerides and low or normal cholesterol levels in your lipid profile test. This is rather a strange picture to see. But certain conditions can cause this type of a lipid picture.

Usually, high triglycerides are associated with low HDL values and high LDL levels. If you have such a lipid disorder, you have to take some serious steps to normalize your lipid profile. See your doctor for treatment and therapeutic lifestyle changes.

Both stay within their normal range of blood levels unless some reasons cause them to be raised. But occasionally, you may see that the triglycerides are high and the cholesterol levels are okay. There are certain reasons for this occurrence.

There have even been cases where the triglycerides are very high and the LDL, the bad cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol are low. This also causes the total cholesterol levels to fall.

Triglycerides and cholesterol are both types of fats, both having their own functions to perform in the body.

Triglycerides are the major portion of fats in the body. they are the source of energy and are mainly stored in the adipose tissue.

Cholesterol moves through the bloodstream riding piggyback on the soluble proteins in the form of lipoproteins.

They are mainly of two types:

LDL cholesterol is referred to as the bad cholesterol because its high levels can have dangerous consequences in the body such as atherosclerosis increasing your risk of heart attack, stroke and more.

HDL cholesterol is referred to as the good cholesterol because it carries off the excess LDL cholesterol and atherosclerotic plaques to the liver to be processed.  It is then passed through the bile in the intestines for removal from the body.

Causes of high triglyceride levels and normal or low cholesterol values

There are certain causes that raise only triglyceride levels but have little or no effect on cholesterol values.

1. Familial hypertriglyceridemia

Familial hypertriglyceridemia is a genetic condition in which only the triglyceride levels are increased while the cholesterol numbers stay unaffected. The rise in TG levels can be quite high.

It is caused by the excessive production of VLDL by the liver or heterozygous lipoprotein lipase (LPL) deficiency. The reason for this high rise of TG in this condition is still not understood.

In the majority of cases, familial hypertriglyceridemia is not noticeable until puberty or early adulthood.

2. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland is another cause that increases your triglyceride levels. It does not affect the cholesterol blood values.

3. Medications

Medications such as older beta-blockers, that include propranolol (Inderal, Innopran XL), atenolol (Tenormin), and metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol-XL) increase only your triglyceride levels, slightly decrease HDL levels and have no effect on LDL cholesterol levels. This is typically found in people with metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a condition in which the person is associated simultaneously with the following conditions:

  • High blood pressure
  • High fasting blood sugar
  • Abdomen obesity
  • Abnormal cholesterol and triglycerides

4. Alcohol

Consuming alcohol beyond the recommended limits can raise your triglycerides. Regular heavy drinkers and occasional binge drinkers can have raised triglyceride levels of 500 mg/dL or even more. This puts them at a very high risk of developing pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

5. Smoking

Smoking is a common cause of low HDL cholesterol levels, high LDL levels. and raised triglycerides. So, you may see a picture of high TG levels with low HDL values in chronic smokers.