Does acute pancreatitis cause hypertriglyceridemia (high triglyceride levels)?

Updated: Jul 23, 2021
  • Author: Mary Ellen T Sweeney, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Answer

Acute pancreatitis may cause substantial elevations in triglycerides by unknown mechanisms. However, much more frequently, severe hypertriglyceridemia causes acute pancreatitis. In patients presenting with acute pancreatitis and triglycerides greater than 1000 mg/dL, it is prudent to not assume that the triglycerides are the cause of the pancreatitis. Other causes, such as common bile duct obstruction and alcoholism, must be considered as possible etiologies.

Nonetheless, a study by Sanchez et al found the rate of acute pancreatitis in persons with triglyceride levels of over 1000 mg/dL to be 1.21%, compared with 0.08% in those with levels below 200 mg/dL. [26]


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