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Several factors, including drugs, can influence serum lipids (eTable 28–1). These are important for two reasons: abnormal lipid levels (or changes in lipid levels) may be the presenting sign of some of these conditions, and correction of the underlying condition may obviate the need to treat an apparent lipid disorder. Thyroid disease, particularly hypothyroidism, is associated with a high LDL. Poorly controlled diabetes mellitus and alcohol use, in particular, are commonly associated with high triglyceride levels that decline with improvements in glycemic control or reduction in alcohol use, respectively. Thus, secondary causes of high blood lipids should be considered in each patient with a lipid disorder before lipid-lowering therapy is started. In most instances, special testing is not needed: a history and physical examination are sufficient.

eTable 28–1.Secondary causes of lipid abnormalities.

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