The diagnosis of severe hypertriglyceridemia (HTG) as a cause for acute pancreatitis is often delayed with limited data on the characteristics and predictors of recurrent pancreatitis in this population.
A regional database of severe HTG level of 1000 mg/dL or greater was analyzed to identify subjects with acute pancreatitis. Factors associated with recurrent pancreatitis during long-term follow-up were investigated.
Severe HTG-associated pancreatitis was evident in 171 patients (75% diabetics). Recurrent pancreatitis was observed in 16%; this was associated with younger age, alcohol abuse, and an increase in triglyceride levels. In multivariable analysis, peak triglycerides level of greater than 3000 mg/dL (hazard ratio, 2.92; 95% confidence interval, 1.28–6.64; P = 0.011) and most recent triglycerides level of greater than 500 mg/dL (hazard ratio, 3.72; 95% confidence interval, 1.60–8.66; P = 0.002) remained independently associated with recurrent pancreatitis. These lipid measures as well as alcohol abuse were additionally correlated with a stepwise increase in the number of pancreatitis episodes.
Severe HTG-related pancreatitis was closely associated with diabetes. Extreme HTG and a lack of attainment of lower triglyceride levels were independent long-term predictors of recurrent pancreatitis. These findings emphasize the importance of early identification and successful treatment of severe HTG and its underlying disorders to reduce the burden of recurrent pancreatitis.