To discuss the relevance of triglycerides to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.

Triglycerides are a commonly measured component of lipid profiles. Raised triglycerides are a component of the metabolic syndrome and are strongly associated with future risk of diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease. Triglyceride-rich particles form a component of cardiovascular risk above that delineated by low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Elevated triglycerides are a marker of atherogenic small dense LDL, excess baseline and residual CVD risk even after statin therapy. Additional methods to lower triglycerides include niacin, fibrates and omega-3 fatty acids. Trials in monotherapy with both niacin and fibrates suggest some benefit in reducing CVD events based on evidence mostly derived from older studies.

However, endpoint trials of adding either niacin or fenofibrate to statins have not shown any benefit, except possibly in patients with an increased atherogenic index (triglyceride : HDL-C ratio), or have been underpowered. Trials of omega-3 fatty acids have been performed at doses insufficient to affect lipid profiles in populations with inadequate control of LDL-C but did reduce CVD events.

Further trials of lipid-lowering agents beyond statins will be required in patients with LDL-C adequately controlled on statin therapy.