Familial hypertriglyceridemia is caused by a genetic defect, which is passed on in an autosomal dominant fashion. This means that if you get a bad copy of the gene from just one of your parents, you will have the condition.
Some people with this condition also have high levels of very low density lipoprotein (VLDL). The reason for the rise in triglycerides and VLDL is not understood.
In most cases, familial hypertriglyceridemia is not noticeable until puberty or early adulthood. Obesity, hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels), and high levels of insulin are often present as well. These factors may cause even higher triglyceride levels. Alcohol and estrogen use can make the condition worse.
You are more likely to have this condition if you have a family history of hypertriglyceridemia or heart disease before age 50.