Heart & Stroke Conditions Explained



Triglycerides are another type of fat found in your blood.

Too much triglyceride in your blood can increase your chances of getting heart disease and stroke.


Related topics: cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, healthy eating, be active, quit smoking, high cholesterol.



Having high triglycerides does not usually cause symptoms.

Instead, it causes the build up of fatty material on the artery walls and symptoms occur when the artery narrows or becomes blocked.

The type of symptoms depend on where the blockage occurs – angina, acute coronary syndrome, heart attack if the heart is affected; stroke or TIA if the brain is affected; leg pain and intermittent pain when walking if the peripheral arteries are affected.



There are four main causes of triglycerides

You are more likely to develop high triglycerides if you are:




For a healthy level of triglycerides and good heart health:

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables and wholegrain foods
  • Eat less fatty foods
  • Eat fish twice a week including oily fish
  • If you smoke, try to stop
  • Be a healthy weight
  • Be more physically active for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Learn to relax, de-stress – take time out for yourself
  • Have a regular blood pressure and cholesterol check with your doctor.



If a family member has high cholesterol, heart disease or has had a stroke, it’s really important you ask your doctor to do this test.

You can do this blood test on any visit to your doctor. Your triglycerides can be measured by your doctor, who knows your family history. This measurement would usually be done at the same time that blood cholesterol levels are measured.

A healthy level of triglyceride is less than 2 mmol/l.



Please follow the practical advice below, it will help to lower your blood cholesterol as well as helping to lower your triglycerides.

  • Oily fish, such as sardines, mackerel, trout or salmon can help lower your triglyceride levels. Try to eat fish (fresh or tinned) twice a week including oily fish; for example, have fish for one main meal and one lunch serving.
  • Oily fish (which contains omega 3 fatty acids) improves your blood circulation, reduces the stickiness of the blood and prevents your blood from clotting.
  • If you drink alcohol, take no more than one drink (such as a small glass of wine or a half pint of beer) a day and go some days without any alcohol.
  • Watch the amount of sweet foods you eat from the top shelf of the Food Pyramid, like biscuits, cakes, chocolate, sweets, fizzy drinks, jams, marmalades and sugars.
  • Choose low-sugar or sugar-free fizzy drinks, mixers and tinned fruits in their own juice. Instead of sugar try artificial sweeteners. Or ideally try to reduce the amount of sugar you add to food and drinks.

Support for You


The Irish Heart Foundation offers a range of free support services to those affected by heart disease or stroke that can greatly improve their quality of life. These include support groups, physical exercise classes, therapy sessions and more.

For more information on these supports, see our Patient Supports page.

If you have any questions about heart disease or stroke, you can also call the Irish Heart Foundation’s Nurse Support on (01) 668 5001 to speak to a nurse specialist who will answer your questions, and give you guidance and reassurance.



Read our resources for further information:

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