Elevated plasma triglyceride concentration is a common biochemical finding, but the evidence for the benefit of treating this lipid disturbance remains less robust than that for treating elevated low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol.

Part of the difficulty in the provision of specific recommendations has been the frequent coexistence of elevated triglycerides with other conditions that affect cardiovascular disease risk, such as depressed high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, obesity, metabolic syndrome, proinflammatory and prothrombotic biomarkers, and type 2 diabetes. Recent investigations of outcomes of cardiovascular disease when medications are used to reduce triglyceride levels suggest that, although a net benefit probably exists, both relative and absolute risk reductions seem underwhelming when compared with the benefit of reducing low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol levels with treatment.

However, the totality of evidence suggests that elevated triglyceride levels likely contribute independently to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, although there is no consensus about appropriate target levels.

Furthermore, severe hypertriglyceridemia is associated with an increased risk of acute pancreatitis, irrespective of its effect on risk of cardiovascular disease. We review the causes and classification of elevated triglyceride levels, the clinical manifestations of primary hypertriglyceridemia and the management of patients with elevated triglyceride levels.

PMID: 17420495

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