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Hypertriglyceridemia as a possible cause of coma: a case report

Ryota Inokuchi12*, Akinori Matsumoto1, Ryuta Azihara1, Hajime Sato3, Yoshibumi Kumada1, Hideyuki Yokoyama1, Megumi Okada1, Tokiya Ishida1, Kensuke Nakamura2, Susumu Nakajima2, Naoki Yahagi2 and Kazuaki Shinohara1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, Ohta Nishinouchi Hospital, 2-5-20 Nishinouchi, Koriyama, Fukushima, 963-8558, Japan

2 Department of Emergency and Critical Care Medicine, The University of Tokyo Hospital, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8655, Japan

3 Department of Health Policy and Technology Assessment, National Institute of Public Health, 2-3-6 Minami, Wako, Saitama, 351-0197, Japan

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2012, 6:412  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-412

Published: 30 November 2012



Many studies suggest that elevated triglyceride levels are associated with increased long-term risk of stroke, including transient ischemic attacks. In addition, elevated triglyceride levels independently contribute to plasma viscosity and decreased blood flow. However, no consensus has been reached regarding the significance of hypertriglyceridemia as an independent risk factor for ischemic stroke.

Case presentation

We report the case of a patient admitted to our hospital for sudden onset of coma. Laboratory test results revealed he had high blood glucose (28.2mmol/L), high glycated hemoglobin (11.4 percent), considerably high serum triglyceride levels (171.5mmol/L; type V hyperlipoproteinemia), and high plasma viscosity (1.90mPa/s) with normal β-hydroxybutyric acid levels. His triglyceride levels decreased after administering intravenous fluids. Our patient’s consciousness level improved gradually over three days. All serum lipid levels decreased seven days after admission.


The findings in our patient’s case are likely explained by triglyceride-mediated hyperviscosity causing a transient ischemic attack. In the present report we suggest that when several tests do not reveal the cause of stroke-like symptoms, measurement of plasma viscosity may be informative.

Hypertriglyceridemia; Plasma viscosity; Alcohol; Diabetes mellitus; Transient ischemic attack