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Diabetes

What Can Cause a High Triglyceride Count?

10/02/2006

Question:

My diabetes were out of control. Ended up in the hospital with a blood sugar level over 600, total cholesterol over 800 and triglycerides over 8,700. I get the severity and want to understand it better.

Does the out-of-control blood sugar level cause the extremely high triglycerides?

How can the triglycerides get so high? Every time the triglyceride count was mentioned the doctors said it was the highest they have seen.

Besides pancreatitis, is there any other complictions we shoudl look out for with such high triglycerides and blood sugar levels?

Answer:

Your extremely elevated triglyceride levels speak in favor of having a genetic disease as the main reason for your condition, however, abnormal glucose control, obesity, lack of physical activity, drinking alcohol, and taking estrogen-based drugs (if you are a woman) can exaggerate your baseline triglyceride abnormality very easily. Therefore, you will need to make sure that you are eliminating all of these risk factors as much as possible. One out of 5 patients with genetic hypertriglyceridemia develop type 2 diabetes over time, meaning that there is a close relationship between your triglyceride and glucose levels, and both have to be addressed in order to improve your metabolic profile. I can not comment on the exact diagnosis and treatment based on your information, but you really need to follow up with a endocrinologist/lipid specialist in order to control your lipid disease more aggressively if it has not been done yet.

Very high triglyceride levels are associated with peripheral neuropathy in addition to pancreatitis. Also, metabolic abnormalities such as fatty liver disease as well as cardiovascular disease are known complications related to your condition. 

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Response by:

Marzieh  Salehi, MD Marzieh Salehi, MD
Assistant Professor of Endocrinology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati