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Hypertriglyceridemia is a commonly encountered lipid abnormality frequently associated with other lipid and metabolic derangements. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends obtaining a fasting lipid panel in adults over the age of 20. The discovery of hypertriglyceridemia should prompt an investigation for secondary causes such as high fat diet, excessive alcohol intake, certain medications, and medical conditions (eg, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism). In addition, patients should be evaluated for other components of the metabolic syndrome. These include abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL), high triglyceride, and hypertension. Hypertriglyceridemia is classified as primary hypertriglyceridemia when there are no secondary causes identified. Primary hypertriglyceridemia is the result of various genetic defects leading to disordered triglyceride metabolism. It is important to treat hypertriglyceridemia to prevent pancreatitis by reducing triglyceride levels to <500 mg/dL. Furthermore, lowering triglycerides while treating other dyslipidemias and components of the metabolic syndrome will reduce coronary events. However, it is controversial how much isolated hypertriglyceridemia correlates directly with coronary artery disease and further studies are needed to clarify whether treatment for this condition leads to meaningful clinical outcomes. Therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC) are the first line of treatment for hypertriglyceridemia. These changes include a low saturated fat, carbohydrate-controlled diet, combined with alcohol reduction, smoking cessation, and regular aerobic exercise. High doses of omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oil supplements will lower triglyceride levels significantly. When patients do not reach their goals by TLC, drug therapy should be started. In cases of isolated hypertriglyceridemia, fibrates are initially considered. When elevated low-density lipoprotein levels accompany hypertriglyceridemia, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors are preferred. In patients with low HDL levels and hypertriglyceridemia, extended release niacin can be considered. A combination of the medicines may be necessary in recalcitrant cases.

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