If you have both elevated blood glucose and triglyceride levels, you may have metabolic syndrome, a group of health problems found to increase the risk of prediabetes, type 2 diabetes (T2DM), heart attack and stroke. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), published in the May 2015 issue of "JAMA," nearly 35 percent of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome. Three out of five diagnostic criteria need to be present to diagnose this syndrome. In addition to high glucose and triglyceride levels, the other criteria include a large waistline, high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol -- a heart protective cholesterol found in the blood.
Insulin resistance, a condition in which your body fails to use insulin properly, is present in most people with metabolic syndrome. If you have insulin resistance, you may be producing normal or even high levels of insulin, but the impaired action of insulin causes some glucose to remain in the blood and not move into body cells as expected. Insulin resistance often exists well before the diagnosis of prediabetes and T2DM, and leads to high glucose levels when the body isn't able to produce enough insulin to compensate for the hormone's impaired action. While several factors make insulin resistance more likely to occur, being overweight and inactive are major contributors. In addition to the risk of prediabetes and T2DM, prolonged insulin resistance also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
High Triglyceride Levels
Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood. They are a source of energy that comes from food, and excess is stored as body fat. While it's normal to have some triglycerides in the blood, elevated levels raise the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Your triglyceride level is influenced by excess calories, including those from fatty foods, sweets and alcohol. Obesity and inactivity can also raise triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels are also linked to insulin resistance and elevated blood glucose levels. For example, a March 2006 report published in “Diabetes Care” summarized 1999-2002 NHANES data, and reported that 35 percent of adults with T2DM had triglyceride levels above 200 mg/dL. Normal triglyceride levels are 100 to 150 mg/dL.
High Blood Glucose Levels
If you have impaired glucose tolerance, your body cannot properly maintain blood glucose levels and you most likely have prediabetes or T2DM. Insulin resistance, elevated glucose levels and high triglyceride levels are related. In fact, if you have metabolic syndrome, you have a twofold increase for the risk of cardiovascular disease, and are five times more likely to develop T2DM, according to an article published in the June 2006 issue of "American Society for Clinical Nutrition." A March 2011 study published in the “Oman Medical Journal” examined this relationship, comparing study participants who had elevated blood glucose along with either high or normal blood cholesterol and high or normal triglyceride levels. This study identified a strong association between elevated triglyceride levels alone, or the combination of elevated triglycerides and high cholesterol levels and high blood glucose levels.
Warnings and Precautions
Elevated blood glucose and high triglyceride levels are associated with insulin resistance, and represent two of the common health problems linked with metabolic syndrome. Lifestyle modifications such as exercise, a healthy diet, weight loss and sometimes medication can help improve your glucose and triglyceride levels and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Speak to your doctor regarding a plan to manage these conditions. See your doctor immediately if you have abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting -- as these are symptoms of pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, a life-threatening condition that can be caused by extremely high levels of triglycerides. If you do not already have diabetes, and you experience increased thirst, fatigue or blurred vision, see your doctor right away; these symptoms could indicate the progression of prediabetes into type 2 diabetes.