A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association
A long-standing association exists between elevated triglyceride levels and cardiovascular disease* (CVD).1,2 However, the extent to which triglycerides directly promote CVD or represent a biomarker of risk has been debated for 3 decades.3 To this end, 2 National Institutes of Health consensus conferences evaluated the evidentiary role of triglycerides in cardiovascular risk assessment and provided therapeutic recommendations for hypertriglyceridemic states.4,5 Since 1993, additional insights have been made vis-à-vis the atherogenicity of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TRLs; ie, chylomicrons and very low-density lipoproteins), genetic and metabolic regulators of triglyceride metabolism, and classification and treatment of hypertriglyceridemia. It is especially disconcerting that in the United States, mean triglyceride levels have risen since 1976, in concert with the growing epidemic of obesity, insulin resistance (IR), and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).6,7 In contrast, mean low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels have receded.7 Therefore, the purpose of this scientific statement is to update clinicians on the increasingly crucial role of triglycerides in the evaluation and management of CVD risk and highlight approaches aimed at minimizing the adverse public health–related consequences associated with hypertriglyceridemic states. This statement will complement recent American Heart Association scientific statements on childhood and adolescent obesity8 and dietary sugar intake9 by emphasizing effective lifestyle strategies designed to lower triglyceride levels and improve overall cardiometabolic health. It is not intended to serve as a specific guideline but will be of value to the Adult Treatment Panel IV (ATP IV) of the National Cholesterol Education Program, from which evidence-based guidelines will ensue. Topics to be addressed include epidemiology and CVD risk, ethnic and racial differences, metabolic determinants, genetic and family determinants, risk factor correlates, and effects related to nutrition, physical activity, and lipid medications.
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