4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2013   
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Triglycerides are lipids (fats) that circulate in the blood and can be found in about 95 percent of the fat found in a person's diet.1 High levels of triglycerides may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The triglyceride test measures the amount of triglycerides circulating in the blood at the time of the test.


Triglyceride results were obtained for persons aged 12 years and over, who agreed to participate in the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) and who fasted for 8 hours or more, prior to providing a blood sample.


A blood sample was collected from participants and triglyceride levels were measured at the Douglass Hanly Moir (DHM) laboratory.

In the NHMS, cut off reference values for normal and abnormal results were sourced from the 2005 position statement2 on lipid management by the National Heart Foundation Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (NHFA/CSANZ). These guidelines are based on epidemiological data and publications of major clinical trials.

In the NHMS, the following definitions were used for serum triglyceride levels:

  • Normal triglyceride levels < 2.0 mmol/L
  • Abnormal triglyceride levels ≥ 2.0 mmol/L.

Further test information about the analysis method and machine used to measure triglyceride levels is available in Excel spreadsheet format in the Downloads page of this product.

Data items

The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.


Points to be considered when interpreting data for this topic include the following:
  • Triglyceride results do not confirm a specific diagnosis without consultation with a health professional.
  • Levels of triglycerides alone are not sufficient to assess the risk of CVD.3
  • Age, gender and taking lipid lowering medications are all variables that may affect lipid and lipoprotein levels.3 As a result, the data should be interpreted with care.
  • Fasting over 8 hours is required for this biomarker to accurately assess the levels of lipids (fat) circulating in the blood.
  • There are a number of different test methods for measuring triglycerides, which may produce different results. The data from this topic should therefore be used with caution when comparing triglyceride results from other studies using a different test method or equation.

Comparability with other surveys

The NHMS is the first ABS survey to collect biomedical data on triglyceride levels.

Triglyceride data has been collected in other non-ABS surveys. However, caution must be taken when interpreting results due to the differences in scope, assay and the instrument used, and any thresholds applied in the final analysis. Further information about these comparisons is available from the Comparisons with other Australian surveys section of the Biomedical Results for Chronic Diseases, 2011-12 publication.


1 Better Health Channel, 2013, Triglycerides, <http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Triglycerides>, Last accessed 22/10/2013.
2 National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, 2005, Position Statement on Lipid Management - 2005, <http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/sitecollectiondocuments/the-lipid-position-statement.pdf>, Last accessed 22/10/2013.
3 Appleton CA, Caldwell G, McNeil A, Meerkin M, Sikaris K, Sullivan DR, Thomas DW, and DP Tognarini, Australian Pathology Lipid Interest Group, 2007, Recommendations for Lipid Testing and Reporting by Australian Pathology Laboratories, <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1904423/>, Last accessed 22/10/2013.

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