4727.0.55.002 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2012-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 10/09/2014  First Issue
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Triglycerides are lipids (fats) that circulate in the blood and can be found in about 95 per cent 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 18 years and over, who agreed to participate in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey (NATSIHMS) 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 NATSIHMS, 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 NATSIHMS, 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. Only persons who fasted were included into the triglyceride data.
  • 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 NATSIHMS is the first ABS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey to collect biomedical information. Given it was also the first national level survey (ABS or otherwise) to collect such data for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, no comparisons with previous surveys for this population are possible.

However, biomedical data was also collected for all Australians in the 2011-12 National Health Measures Survey (NHMS) and information about comparisons between the NHMS results and those of non-ABS surveys 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 08/09/2014.
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 08/09/2014.
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 08/09/2014.

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