Triglyceride-lowering therapies reduce cardiovascular disease event risk in subjects with hypertriglyceridemia

J Clin Lipidol. Jul-Aug 2016;10(4):905-914. doi: 10.1016/j.jacl.2016.03.008. Epub 2016 Mar 23.


Background: Cardiovascular outcomes trials of fibrates, niacin, or omega-3 fatty acids alone, or added to a statin, have not consistently demonstrated reduced risk, but larger, statistically significant clinical benefits have been reported in subgroups with elevated triglycerides (TG) and/or elevated TG plus low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C).

Objective: To perform a meta-analysis of the effects of therapies targeting TG and TG-rich lipoprotein cholesterol on cardiovascular disease event risk in subjects with elevated TG or elevated TG paired with low HDL-C.

Methods: Publications were identified using PubMed, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials,, the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, and Internet Stroke Center. Random-effects meta-analysis models were used to generate summary relative risk estimates and 95% confidence intervals. Heterogeneity was assessed by χ(2) and I(2) statistics, and the impact of each trial was assessed in one study-removed sensitivity analyses.

Results: Six trials of fibrates, 2 of niacin, 1 of fibrate + niacin, and 1 of omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid ethyl esters were identified. For the prespecified primary cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease end point used in each trial, the summary relative risk estimate (95% confidence interval) for subjects with elevated TG was 0.82 (0.73-0.91), p-heterogeneity = 0.13, I(2) = 36.2, and for subjects with elevated TG and low-HDL-C, it was 0.71 (0.63-0.81), p-heterogeneity = 0.52, I(2) = 0.0. There was no evidence of publication bias, and the results remained statistically significant when each individual trial was removed.

Conclusion: Drugs that substantially, but not exclusively, lower TG and TG-rich lipoprotein cholesterol may have cardiovascular benefits in individuals with elevated TG, particularly if accompanied by low HDL-C.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Cardiovascular events; Fibrates; Hypertriglyceridemia; Lipid-altering drug therapy; Niacin; Omega-3 fatty acids; Triglyceride-lowering therapy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications*
  • Humans
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / complications*
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / drug therapy
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / metabolism
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Risk
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Triglycerides