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Plasmapheresis in the Management of Severe Hypertriglyceridemia

Author(s): Gilbert Seda, MD, PhD, Jill M. Meyer, MD, Dennis E. Amundson, DO, Massoud Daheshia, PhD, DEA

Contact Hours: 1.00

CERP A: 1.00

Expires Aug 01, 2017

Topics: Cardiovascular, HematologyOncology, MultiSystem

Member: Free
NonMember: $10.00

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Activity Summary

Plasmapheresis can benefit a variety of critically ill patients. A woman with diabetic ketoacidosis and severe hypertriglyceridemia was treated with plasmapheresis when conventional treatments did not markedly reduce her triglyceridemia. The patient was admitted to a medical intensive care unit because of diabetic ketoacidosis with severe lipemia. The lipemia-associated interference in laboratory studies made treatment of electrolyte abnormalities extremely difficult. The hypertriglyceridemia was initially treated with insulin, antilipidemic medications, and heparin, but the levels of triglycerides remained elevated, delaying results of needed laboratory studies for hours. After plasmapheresis, the serum level of triglycerides decreased by 77% in less than 24 hours. Severe lipemia interferes with photometric laboratory studies, yielding an underestimation of serum levels of electrolytes. Plasmapheresis is safe, rapid, and effective for emergent management of severe hypertriglyceridemia in critically ill patients. The impact of the procedure on critical care nursing is growing as nurses become involved in the treatment and follow-up care of patients who have plasmapheresis.


  • Describe use of plasmapheresis for the management of severe hypertriglyceridemia
  • Identify conventional therapeutic modalities used for management of hypertriglyceridemia
  • Discuss effects of hypertriglyceridemia on clinical laboratory tests

Continuing Education Disclosure Statement

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