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Hypertriglyceridemia: causes, symptoms and treatments

Hypertriglyceridemia is characterized by an excessively high level of triglycerides in the blood. Although they are essential for the proper functioning of the body, triglycerides are lipids whose excess can have adverse effects on health.

What is hypertriglyceridemia?

Hypertriglyceridemia is an excess of triglycerides in the body. Triglycerides are lipids that allow the storage of fatty acids in adipose tissue. Depending on the needs of the body, triglycerides can be hydrolysed to allow the release of fatty acids which are then used as a source of energy by many organs. However, although they are necessary for the body, these lipids can be found in excess and cause complications.

In adults, hypertriglyceridemia occurs when a lipid profile reveals a blood triglyceride level greater than 1.5 g / L, ie 1.7 mmol / L. This reference value may nevertheless vary according to the triglyceride analysis techniques and various parameters such as sex and age.

What are the different types of hypertriglyceridemia?

Depending on the severity of the excess triglycerides, it can be defined as:

  • a minor hypertriglyceridemia when the triglyceride level is less than 2 g / L;
  • moderate hypertriglyceridaemia when the triglyceride level is between 2 and 5 g / L;
  • hypertriglyceridemia major when triglyceridemia is greater than 5 g / L.

It is possible to distinguish two other types of excess triglycerides:

  • Isolated or pure hypertriglyceridemia , when the lipid status reveals no other dyslipidemia, a qualitative or quantitative abnormality of one or more lipids;
  • mixed hypertriglyceridemia when excess triglycerides are associated with other dyslipidemias such as hypercholesterolemia, excess cholesterol in the blood.

Hypertriglyceridemia can also be classified according to their causes. They can be presented as:

  • primary or primitive forms , when they are due to heritable genetic abnormalities;
  • secondary forms when they have no hereditary genetic origin.

What are the different causes of hypertriglyceridemia?

High triglycerides may have many causes such as:

  • an inherited genetic abnormality ;
  • unhealthy eating habits such as excessive consumption of fats, sugars and alcohol;
  • metabolic disorders including diabetes, overweight and obesity;
  • taking certain medications such as corticosteroids, antipsychotics or antiretrovirals.

Who is affected by hypertriglyceridemia?

An excess of triglycerides in the blood can be measured at any age. Hypertriglyceridemia can be diagnosed in adults as well as in children.

The most common hypertriglyceridemia are secondary forms that are not hereditary genetic. Genetic predispositions to dyslipidemia are rarer.

What are the consequences of hypertriglyceridemia?

Like any nutrient, triglycerides can become harmful when they are present in excess in the body. The severity of the consequences nevertheless depends on the origin and evolution of hypertriglyceridemia.

When associated with hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. If the triglyceride level is greater than 5 g / L, hypertriglyceridemia is said to be major and represents a significant risk of acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). In the absence of adequate treatment, the triglyceride level may continue to increase to 10 g / L. This critical threshold constitutes a medical emergency.

What are the symptoms of hypertriglyceridemia?

Hypertriglyceridemia is often asymptomatic. It is difficult to perceive. His diagnosis requires a blood test.

Nevertheless, in the most severe cases, hypertriglyceridemia can be manifested by several symptoms including:

  • abdominal pain
  • an alteration of the general condition;
  • an eruptive xanthomatosis, characterized by the appearance of yellowish skin lesions.

Are there risk factors?

Several risk factors have been identified by the researchers. These factors include, for example:

  • overweight;
  • bad eating habits;
  • excessive alcohol consumption;
  • smoking;
  • physical inactivity ;
  • some diseases ;
  • taking certain medications
  • the aging of the body.

How to prevent hypertriglyceridemia?

It is possible to prevent an increase in triglyceride by limiting certain risk factors. For this, he advised to adopt several preventive measures:

  • adopt a healthy and balanced diet;
  • practice regular physical activity;
  • maintain a healthy weight, close to normal BMI;
  • do not smoke, or stop smoking;
  • consume alcohol in moderation.

How to detect hypertriglyceridemia?

Hypertriglyceridemia is identified during a lipid assessment . This blood test can measure different lipid levels including triglycerides (triglyceride).

What is the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia?

The treatment of hypertriglyceridemia depends on its evolution, its severity and the results of the lipid assessment.

To reduce triglyceride levels that are too high, it is often advisable to adopt a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and practice regular physical activity.

Depending on the type of hypertriglyceridemia, several treatments may also be prescribed. For example, taking fibrates, statins or omega 3 fatty acids may be recommended.

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