The association between triglycerides and incident cardiovascular disease: What is “optimal”?

Tsion Aberra, Eric D. Peterson, Neha J. Pagidipati, Hillary Mulder, Daniel M. Wojdyla, Sephy Philip, Craig Granowitz, Ann Marie Navar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Elevated triglycerides (TGs) are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), but the best way to both measure TGs and assess TG-related risk remains unknown. Objective: The objective of the study was to evaluate the association between TGs and CVD and determine whether the average of a series of TG measurements is more predictive of CVD risk than a single TG measurement. Methods: We examined 15,792 study participants, aged 40–65 years, free of CVD from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities and Framingham Offspring studies, using fasting TG measurements across multiple examinations over time. With up to 10 years of follow-up, we assessed time-to-first CVD event, as well as a composite of myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular death. Results: Compared with a single TG measurement, average TGs over time had greater discrimination for CVD risk (C-statistic, 0.60 vs 0.57). Risk for CVD increased as average TGs rose until an inflection point of ~100 mg/dL in men and ~200 mg/dL in women, above which this risk association plateaued. The relationship between average TGs and CVD remained statistically significant in multivariable modeling adjusting for low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and interactions were found by sex and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level. Conclusions: The average of several TG readings provides incremental improvements for the prediction of CVD relative to a single TG measurement. Regardless of the method of measurement, higher TGs were associated with increased CVD risk, even at levels previously considered “optimal” (<150 mg/dL).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-447.e3
JournalJournal of Clinical Lipidology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • CVD risk prediction
  • High-density lipoprotein cholesterol level
  • Sex
  • Triglyceride measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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