Evidence that triglycerides are an independent coronary heart disease risk factor

Am J Cardiol. 2000 Nov 1;86(9):943-9. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(00)01127-9.


In the past, the relation between hypertriglyceridemia and coronary heart disease (CHD) has been uncertain. However, a recent multivariate analysis of 8-year follow-up data from the large-scale Prospective Cardiovascular Münster study found hypertriglyceridemia to be an independent risk factor for major coronary events after controlling for low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Hypertriglyceridemia combined with elevated LDL cholesterol and high LDL:HDL cholesterol ratio (>5) increased the CHD event risk by approximately sixfold. Similarly, a large meta-analysis of 17 prospective trials reported hypertriglyceridemia to be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In this study, an 88 mg/dl (1.0 mmol/L) increase in plasma triglyceride levels significantly increased the relative risk of cardiovascular disease by approximately 30% in men and 75% in women; the corresponding rates were somewhat lower (14% and 37%) but still statistically significant after adjustment for HDL cholesterol level. These data and observations from patients in the Helsinki Heart Study and the Stockholm Ischemic Heart study, that the greatest coronary benefit during lipid-lowering drug therapy occurred among hypertriglyceridemic patients, argue strongly for an independent role for hypertriglyceridemia in CHD risk. In the recent Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Intervention Trial, the use of gemfibrozil to raise HDL cholesterol levels and lower levels of triglycerides without lowering LDL cholesterol levels reduced coronary events in men with established CHD, whereas preliminary results from the Bezafibrate Infarction Prevention Trial indicate a reduction in coronary end points in patients with elevated baseline triglyceride levels. To achieve the greatest possible reduction in CHD risk, antihyperlipidemic treatment strategies should also be aimed at reducing elevated triglycerides.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / complications*
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / drug therapy
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Anticholesteremic Agents