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June 20, 2002


Question from Kerala, India:

I am a 23 year old male (165 centimeters [5 feet 5 inches] tall; 50 kilograms [110 pounds], who does not have diabetes and recently was found to have a very high serum triglyceride level (441 mg/dl). The other factors were: Total cholesterol: 210 mg/dl; HDL cholesterol: 42 mg/dl; and blood sugar 95 mg/dl [5.3 mmol/L]. What could be the cause of this? Please give me some advice.


The most likely reason for an elevated triglycerides without diabetes is a familial disorder of triglyceride metabolism. Make sure the blood sample was drawn after having fasted at least 8-10 hours overnight. If this was drawn after a meal, the result will be artificially elevated. I would make sure your physician rules out a thyroid problem (which can increase triglyceride levels).

Treatment would be a low fat diet and possibly medication. I would suggest medications if all the above has been attempted and there is no improvement.