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Journal of Clinical Lipidology
Year: 2012  |  Volume: 6  |  Issue: 5  |  Page No.: 413 - 426

Treatment options for the management of hypertriglyceridemia: Strategies based on the best-available evidence

Kevin C. Maki, Harold E. Bays and Mary R. Dicklin    

Abstract: A severe elevation in triglycerides (TG; ≥500 mg/dL) increases the risk for pancreatitis. TG levels ≥200 mg/dL are associated with a greater risk of atherosclerotic coronary heart disease (CHD). However, no outcomes trials exist to assess the efficacy of TG lowering for preventing pancreatitis in patients with severe hypertriglyceridemia. Similarly, no completed prospective outcomes trial exists to support or refute a reduction in CHD risk resulting from lipid-altering therapy in patients specifically selected for the presence of hypertriglyceridemia. This review examines the available evidence for the use of statins, omega-3 fatty acids, fibrates, and niacin in the management of hypertriglyceridemic patients. Results from CHD outcomes trials support statins as the first-line lipid-altering drug therapy to reduce CHD in hypercholesterolemic patients, and subgroup analyses suggest statins are efficacious in hypertriglyceridemic patients with fasting TG levels <500 mg/dL. Omega-3 fatty acids and fibrates are reasonable first drug options for patients with TG ≥500 mg/dL and often are used to lower TG levels with the objective of reducing pancreatitis risk, although a statin or niacin may also be reasonable options. Combination lipid drug therapy may be needed to achieve both low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol treatment goals for CHD prevention in patients with elevated TG levels, particularly those with TG ≥500 mg/dL. Additional clinical outcomes data are needed to provide a more evidence-based rationale for clinical lipid management of hypertriglyceridemic patients.

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