Hypertriglyceridaemia and risk of coronary artery disease

Nat Rev Cardiol. 2017 Jul;14(7):401-411. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2017.31. Epub 2017 Mar 16.


An elevated serum level of LDL cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), but the role of elevated triglyceride levels is debated. Controversies regarding hypertriglyceridaemia as an independent risk factor for CVD have occurred partly because elevated triglyceride levels are often a component of atherogenic dyslipidaemia - they are associated with decreased levels of HDL cholesterol and increased levels of small dense LDL particles, which are highly atherogenic. Findings from several large studies indicate that elevated levels of triglycerides (either fasting or nonfasting) or, more specifically, triglyceride-rich lipoproteins and their remnants, are independently associated with increased risk of CVD. Possible mechanisms for this association include excessive free fatty acid release, production of proinflammatory cytokines, coagulation factors, and impairment of fibrinolysis. Therapeutic targeting of hypertriglyceridaemia could, therefore, reduce CVD and cardiovascular events, beyond the reduction achieved by LDL-cholesterol lowering. Elevated triglyceride levels are reduced with lifestyle interventions and fibrates, which can be combined with omega-3 fatty acids. Some new drugs are on the horizon, such as volanesorsen (which targets apolipoprotein C-III), pemafibrate, and others. However, CVD outcome studies with triglyceride-lowering agents have produced inconsistent results, meaning that no convincing evidence is available that lowering triglycerides by any approach can reduce mortality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Artery Disease* / epidemiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / metabolism
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hypertriglyceridemia* / drug therapy
  • Hypertriglyceridemia* / epidemiology
  • Hypertriglyceridemia* / metabolism
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides* / blood
  • Triglycerides* / metabolism


  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Triglycerides