The aim of this study was to assess retrospectively the prevalence and the predictive factors of acute pancreatitis (AP) in a population of patients referred in our endocrinology department for evaluation of very high triglyceride (TG) levels.
One hundred twenty-nine patients (119 with type IV phenotypes and 10 with type V phenotypes according to Fredrickson's classification) were referred to our hospital between 2000 and 2005.
Twenty-six subjects (20.2% of the population) presented with AP. This population was significantly younger at diagnosis of hyperlipidemia (32 vs 40 years, P < 0.001) and at age of investigation (43 vs 48 years, P = 0.05) and had maximum TG levels greater than the population without AP (44.7 vs 24.5, P < 0.001). Subjects of the third tertile of TG levels had a 4.0-fold increased risk (95% confidence interval, 1.3-12.3) of AP compared with the first tertile. Severe pancreatitis (need for intensive care, C-reactive protein >150 mg/L, or Balthazar score >C) was observed in 71.5% of the patients.
Twenty percent of patients with severe hypertriglyceridemia experience at least 1 attack of AP. Pancreatitis seems to occur in young patients at higher levels of TG than previously thought (85% of patients >30 g/L) and is associated with a severe clinical course.