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Classification and external resources
ICD-10 E78.1, E78.2, E78.3
ICD-9 272.1
OMIM 145750
DiseasesDB 6372
MedlinePlus 000397
eMedicine med/2921 article/126568
MeSH D015228

Hypertriglyceridemia denotes high (hyper-) blood levels (-emia) of triglycerides, the most abundant fatty molecule in most organisms. Elevated levels of triglycerides are associated with atherosclerosis, even in the absence of hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol levels), and predispose to cardiovascular disease. Very high triglyceride levels also increase the risk of acute pancreatitis. Hypertriglyceridemia itself is usually symptomless, although high levels may be associated with skin lesions known as xanthomas.[1]

The diagnosis is made on blood tests, often performed as part of screening. Once diagnosed, other blood tests are usually required to determine whether the raised triglyceride level is caused by other underlying disorders ("secondary hypertriglyceridemia") or whether no such underlying cause exists ("primary hypertriglyceridaemia"). There is a hereditary predisposition to both primary and secondary hypertriglyceridemia.[1]

Weight loss and dietary modification may be effective in hypertriglyceridemia. The decision to treat hypertriglyceridemia with medication depends on the levels and on the presence of other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Very high levels that would increase the risk of pancreatitis is treated with a drug from the fibrate class. Niacin and omega-3 fatty acids as well as drugs from the statin class may be used in conjunction, with statins being the main drug treatment for moderate hypertriglyceridemia where reduction of cardiovascular risk is required.[1]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

Most people with elevated triglycerides experience no symptoms. Some forms of primary hypertriglyceridemia can lead to specific symptoms: both familial chylomicronemia and primary mixed hyperlipidemia include skin symptoms (eruptive xanthoma), eye abnormalities (lipemia retinalis), hepatosplenomegaly (enlargement of the liver and spleen), and neurological symptoms. Some experience attacks of abdominal pain that may be mild episodes of pancreatitis. Eruptive xanthomas are 2–5 mm papules, often with a red ring around them, that occur in clusters on the skin of the trunk, buttocks and extremities.[2] Familial dysbetalipoproteinemia causes larger, tuberous xanthomas; these are red or orange and occur on the elbows and knees. Palmar crease xanthomas may also occur.[1][2]

Acute pancreatitis occurs in people whose triglyceride levels are above 1000 mg/dl (11.3 mmol/l).[1][2][3] Hypertriglyceridemia is associated with 1–4% of all cases of pancreatitis. The symptoms are similar to pancreatitis secondary to other causes, although the presence of xanthomas or risk factors for hypertriglyceridemia may offer clues.[3]



For people with mildly or moderately high levels of triglycerides lifestyle changes are recommended.[1] This may include restriction of carbohydrates and fat in the diet. Medications are recommended in those with high levels of triglycerides, with fibrates being recommended first.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Berglund L, Brunzell JD, Goldberg AC, et al. (September 2012). "Evaluation and treatment of hypertriglyceridemia: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline". J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 97 (9): 2969–89. doi:10.1210/jc.2011-3213. PMC 3431581. PMID 22962670. 
  2. ^ a b c Yuan G, Al-Shali KZ, Hegele RA (April 2007). "Hypertriglyceridemia: its etiology, effects and treatment". CMAJ 176 (8): 1113–20. doi:10.1503/cmaj.060963. PMC 1839776. PMID 17420495. 
  3. ^ a b Tsuang W, Navaneethan U, Ruiz L, Palascak JB, Gelrud A (April 2009). "Hypertriglyceridemic pancreatitis: presentation and management". Am. J. Gastroenterol. 104 (4): 984–91. doi:10.1038/ajg.2009.27. PMID 19293788. 
  4. ^ Silva, ME; Pupo, AA; Ursich, MJ (1987). "Effects of a high-carbohydrate diet on blood glucose, insulin and triglyceride levels in normal and obese subjects and in obese subjects with impaired glucose tolerance.". Brazilian journal of medical and biological research = Revista brasileira de pesquisas medicas e biologicas / Sociedade Brasileira de Biofisica ... [et al.] 20 (3-4): 339–50. PMID 3330460. 
  5. ^ McCarty, MF (2004). "An elevation of triglycerides reflecting decreased triglyceride clearance may not be pathogenic -- relevance to high-carbohydrate diets.". Medical hypotheses 63 (6): 1065–73. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2002.11.002. PMID 15504577. 
  6. ^ Garg, A; Grundy, SM; Unger, RH (Oct 1992). "Comparison of effects of high and low carbohydrate diets on plasma lipoproteins and insulin sensitivity in patients with mild NIDDM.". Diabetes 41 (10): 1278–85. doi:10.2337/diabetes.41.10.1278. PMID 1397701. 
  7. ^ Pejic RN, Lee DT (May–Jun 2006). "Hypertriglyceridemia". J Am Board Fam Med 19 (3): 310–6. doi:10.3122/jabfm.19.3.310. PMID 16672684.