How vaccinations save millions of lives

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Research shows that vaccines have been one of the most effective preventive health interventions ever created. For more than two centuries, humans have been benefitting from immunizations.

We wanted to highlight a few of childhood diseases that are preventable through immunizations. It is recommended for children to be vaccinated for these up through the age of six:

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal
  • Varicella
  • Rubella
  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Influenza
  • Polio
  • Pneumococcal
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Pertussis
  • Tetanus

It is important for children to receive immunizations. This helps their bodies recognize germs as antigens (“foreign invaders”), which signals the body to produce antibodies to fight them. The immune system eventually builds up immunity, meaning if they get infected again, even as an adult, the body remembers the antigen and is able to produce antibodies faster.

Vaccinations can be used to help children build immunity without them getting ill first. Vaccines contain dead or modified viruses that connect cause with the disease but the body recognizes them as the disease. This allows the body to respond quickly and prevent any attacks by that disease.

In addition to children, it is also necessary for all adults to be up-to-date with vaccinations—to ensure that they stay protected from illnesses, such as pneumonia and the flu. It is always safer to prevent illnesses and diseases than to treat it after it occurs. It also helps to protect others who immune memory may have faded from catching the disease.

If you or someone you know needs an appointment for vaccines, or for all back-to-school/sports physicals, please contact Dr. Schumacher by contacting (614) 299-9909.

How to know when a mole becomes cancerous

DR. D art mole B

Skin cancers can appear suddenly, and in many shapes and sizes. Fortunately, it can almost always be cured when found early and properly treated.
Research shows that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It is estimated that more than one million Americans develop skin cancer annually, and more than 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma are treated. Also each year, in the United States, there are more new cases of skin cancer than there are combined cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers. That’s why May is designated to raise awareness about skin cancer, and to help people take action to prevent and detect it.

There are three types of skin cancer, which includes:
1. Basal Cell Carcinoma: BCC is the most common form of skin cancer. It is rarely fatal, but if left untreated, can become highly disfiguring.

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Source: WebMD

  1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This cancer is the second most common form of skin cancer.
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Source: WebMD

  1. Malignant Melanoma: This cancer is the most serious skin cancer. It is estimated that one person dies every 52 minutes from this condition.Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 6.35.12 PM

Source: WebMD

No one is exempt from skin cancer, and can affect everyone’s skin and eyes. According to the American Cancer Society, some common factors that increase your chances of developing the condition include:

  • Having a family history of skin cancer
  • Had skin cancer in the past
  • Have several moles, irregular moles or large moles
  • Have freckles and burn before tanning
  • Have fair skin, blue or green eyes or blond, red or light brown hair
  • Live or vacation at high altitudes
  • Live or vacation in tropical or subtropical climates
  • Work indoors all week and then get intense sun exposure on weekends
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Have certain autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Have certain inherited conditions that increase your risk of skin cancer, such as xeroderma pigmentosum or nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome.
  • Have a medical condition that weakens your immune system, such as HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
  • Have had an organ transplant
  • Take medications that lower or suppress your immune system
  • Take medicines that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight

Some methods of protecting yourself from harmful UV rays include using an effective sunscreen, seeking shade when possible, wearing clothing that provides protection, wearing hats with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim, wearing sunglasses and avoiding tanning beds and sun lamps.

If you or someone you know suspects skin cancer, please call Dr. Schumacher at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment. If you have a form of skin cancer, finding it early is the best way to ensure it can be effectively treated.

Alcohol abuse: the not-so silent killer

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Research shows that more than 17 million people in the United States are dependent on alcohol.

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorder, is the most severe form of alcohol abuse. It is a chronic disease that affects family and professional responsibilities, as well as the individual’s physical and mental health. People who are dependent on alcohol will more than likely continue to drink, despite facing family, health or legal obstacles because they need it to get through the day. Alcoholics also have a high tolerance and suffer from withdrawal, which includes sweating, insomnia, nausea, depression, headaches and irritability, to name a few.

No age is exempt from alcohol addiction, however, abuse is highest with adults ages 18 to 29 and lowest among adults ages 65 and older. Depending on the user’s tolerance, some common effects of drinking include risk of injuries, increase in violence, liver disease, developing some types of cancer, slower reaction times, problems with hearing and seeing and a lower tolerance of alcohol.

The difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse is very small; however, if someone is abusing alcohol but not yet dependent on it, they may experience some tolerance and some withdrawal but nothing as severe as an alcoholic.

Abuse can be noticed when a person is seen with a pattern of drinking that results in repeated disruption of responsibilities to work, school or home responsibilities. Other warning signs include:

  • Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, such as while operating a vehicle or combining alcohol with prescription medication
  • Having legal issues, such as being arrested for driving under the influence
  • Reaching for alcohol as a stress reliever
  • Continuing drinking despite having relationship problems that are caused or made worse by drunkenness.
  • No longer participating hobbies or activities that they were once involved in.
  • Lost control over drinking and can’t limit the amount they are drinking.

Since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., has designated April as Alcohol Awareness Month. This month focuses on increasing public awareness, reducing stigma and encouraging local communities to address alcoholism and alcohol-related problems.

We can all do our part to prevent abuse. A few ideas you can utilize this month to raise awareness are:

  • If you suspect that someone is already an abuser, don’t ignore the problem. Help them seek treatment. Recovery will be an ongoing process, which will require new coping skills, treatment, time and patience. All problems that led to the abuse in the first place will have to be faced.
  • Share tips with parents to help them talk with their kids about alcohol usage. The earlier they talk to their children, the less likely they are to drink underage. Plus, the longer children wait to start drinking, the less likely they are to develop.
  • Talk with anyone you know who may be suffering from the disease. Challenge them to keep track of their drinking by setting limits.
  • Encourage alternative activities to teens/young adults that they can do in place of drinking.

If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol addiction, please call Dr. Schumacher, M.D., at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment.

 

Low testosterone risks and benefits

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Source:freedigitalphotos.net

It’s natural for testosterone levels to decrease as men get older.

Testosterone is a hormone that is mainly produced in the testicles, although low levels of testosterone can also be found in women. Normal levels of testosterone range from about 300 to 900 nanograms per deciliter.

Though society generally equates testosterone with machismo and sex drive, this hormone is responsible for much more. In addition to helping men maintain their sex drive and sperm production, testosterone also regulates red blood cell production, bone density and muscle mass. Testosterone production is at its prime during the teen years and in early adulthood then gradually decreases as men begin to age.

Though this decrease is normal, the effects that Low T can have both mentally and physically can be confusing, and at times, quite frustrating.

Common symptoms of low testosterone include:

  • Low sex drive
  • Difficulty achieving erection
  • Low semen volume
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Increase in body fat
  • Decrease in bone mass
  • Mood changes
  • Outlook and resources
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression

Many of these symptoms, though, can be linked to other medical conditions, such as clinical depression, alcohol use and thyroid disorders.

If you think that you may be suffering from low testosterone, you are not alone. It is estimated that as many as 13 million Americans have Low T. The good news is that if your doctor has informed you that your testosterone is low, there are several hormone therapy treatments available to help you restore your testosterone levels. It should be noted that some of these hormone therapy treatments may have negative side effects, such as sleep apnea, acne breast tenderness, increased urination and weight gain. Side effects do go away if treatment is stopped.

In addition to hormone therapy treatments, there are also natural ways that you can help increase your testosterone, such as making changes in your diet, decreasing stress level and exercising.
If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from low testosterone, please call Dr. Schumacher, M.D., at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment.

When is it more than just pain…

cervical cancer

More than 12,000 women each year are diagnosed with cervical cancer and about one-third of those die as a result of cervical cancer.

That’s why January is a special month, and has been named Cervical Health Awareness Month by the American Social Health Association and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. It was designed as a way for people to get involved to educate women about the importance of getting screenings and vaccinations. Have you been doing your part to raise awareness?

  • Spread the message through social media.
  • Display and distribute a cervical cancer awareness month poster.
  • Discuss it with friends and family

Even though cervical cancer symptoms can also indicate that an individual has just an infection, it is still recommended to seek treatment from your healthcare professional. It would also be wise to get a second opinion, especially from a doctor who is experienced with treating cervical cancer.

Symptoms of cervical cancer can include:

  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Bleeding after douching
  • Bleeding following a pelvic exam
  • Having heavier menstrual periods than usual or ones that last longer than usual
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pelvic pain

Once an individual is diagnosed with cancer by a cervical biopsy, the next step is to determine the stage. A stage is assigned based on the size of the cancer, how deeply the cancer has invaded into the tissue around the cervix, if there are signs of cancer in the vagina, pelvis or local lymph nodes and if there are signs of cancer spread to other organs.

Stages range from stage1, which means cancer is in the cervix or uterus only, to stage IVB, which means the cancer has spread to distant organs, such as the liver.

It is crucial to seek treatment as soon as symptoms are noticed, because when detected at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is 91 percent. If you wait too long and the cancer has had a chance to spread to surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is 57 percent. And, if the cancer has already spread to a distant part of the body, the five-year survival rate is just 16 percent.

So, with awareness, we will be able to help people get tested, understand their diagnosis and help them get the treatments that are needed. This will also help to find changes in the cervix before cancer develops, and before it goes beyond its most curable stage.

If you do suspect that you or someone you know may be suffering from cervical cancer, please call Dr. Schumacher, M.D., at (614) 299-9909 to set up an appointment.

Is it More Than Just a Headache?

DR.DartmigraneAccording to The National Headache Foundation, almost 28 million Americans suffer from headaches. More women than men get migraines and a quarter of all women with migraines suffer four or more attacks a month. But how can you tell the difference between a headache and a migraine? Simply assess your symptoms, the type and location of your pain, and how your headache reacts when treated.

If your headache is only distracting, it’s most likely a tension headache. But if you start to feel debilitating and intense pounding or throbbing, you might be having a migraine headache. Another distinguishing factor of migraine headaches is that unlike other headaches, they tend to result in pain on only one side of the head.

Migraine headaches symptoms can occur in different combinations but usually include:

  • Sensitivity to light, noise and odors;
  • Stomach upset and abdominal pain including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite;
  • Dizziness;
  • Blurred or tunnel vision;
  • Fatigue;
  • Sensations of being very warm or cold.

Most migraines last about four hours, although severe migraine headaches can last up to a week. Migraine frequency varies depending on the person. Migraine sufferers commonly get two to four headaches per month, but some people may get headaches every few days, and others only once or twice a year.The exact causes of migraines are unknown, although studies have shown that they are related to changes in the as well as to genetic causes. People with migraines can also inherit the tendency to be affected by certain triggers like fatigue, bright lights, weather or hormonal changes.

Unfortunately there is no cure for migraines, but most patients who have migraines find that their symptoms can be managed with pain releasing drugs, preventative medications and lifestyle changes.

Pain releasing medications consist of common over-the-counter remedies—NASIDs, ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin—as well as prescription oral and nasal medications. These types of quick working medications are especially useful for people who have nausea or vomiting with their migraines.

Preventive medications are taken daily to keep migraines from happening in the first place. This type of treatment is considered if migraines occur frequently or if symptoms are severe. Prescription preventive treatment medications include beta-blockers, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs and Botox.

Lifestyle changes can also reduce migraines. An important step is identifying and avoiding triggers that lead to migraines in the first place—such as drinking red wine, getting too little sleep or repeated exposure to noisy environments. Although many migraine patients avoid doing exercise since physical exertion can be a trigger, stress-reducing exercises such as tai chi and yoga have been shown to be effective in managing migraines. Some sufferers also find that simple muscle relaxation techniques combined with applying a cold compress or gel pad to the forehead can help provide relief during a migraine attack.

Do you think you might be suffering from migraine headaches? Call Dr. Schumacher’s office at 614-299-9909 to discuss diagnosis, treatment and migraine relief options.

Emotional vs Physical hunger

DR. D over eat1Common Causes of Emotional Eating

STRESS. Bad day at work? Fight with your spouse? Stuck in traffic? Stress triggers the hormone cortisol, which creates cravings for sugary, high-fat and carbohydrate-rich foods. These foods give you a burst of temporary energy and create a feeling of well-being by increasing the “feel good” neurotransmitters and chemicals in your body.

BOREDOM. Preparing and eating food gives you something to do when you’re bored. It keeps both your hands and mouth busy and temporarily distracts you from feeling purposeless and dissatisfied.

AVOIDING EMOTIONS. Eating can be a way to temporarily get rid of uncomfortable emotions such as anger, fear, sadness or shame. Concentrating on eating can temporarily numb and help you avoid your true emotions.

HABITS. Did Mom’s mac and cheese always make you feel better? Did your soccer team always go out for ice cream after winning a game? These emotionally-based associations of good feelings with certain foods survive into adulthood and become ingrained habits.

Emotional vs. Physical Hunger

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between emotional eating and physical hunger, especially if you regularly turn to food to deal with your feelings. So what clues can you use to tell emotional and physical hunger apart?

CRAVINGS. When you’re physically hungry, any type of food that you enjoy sounds good—including healthy choices. When you are craving specific types of food—it has to be pizza or a brownie—then you are most likely eating for emotional reasons and not physical ones.

SAIETY. Saiety is the feeling of fullness we get after eating. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you will eventually feel full. When you eat due to emotional hunger, you keep wanting more and more food until you are stuffed or physically uncomfortable.

REGRET, GUILT or SHAME. When you eat to satisfy your body’s hunger, you don’t feel guilty or ashamed because you are giving your body what it needs to survive. If you feel emotionally worse after you eat, it’s most likely because you know that you’re eating for the wrong reasons.

MINDLESSNESS. Often emotional eating is unconscious. Have you ever eaten an entire bag of potato chips while watching television? Finished a pint of ice cream without even remembering what flavor it was? Emotional eating is mindless, you eat without paying attention or even fully enjoying the tastes, textures and smells of your food.

Alternatives & Solutions to Emotional Eating

So how can you help stop emotional eating? Like any habit, it takes practice to find new ways to comfort and calm yourself. But it can be done. You simply have to re-program your brain to enjoy alternatives to emotional eating.

BE AWARE. Keep track of what you’re eating—note when, where and why. You can create a handwritten food journal or use one of the many available smart phone apps. What patterns emerge? Do you always eat after spending time with a family member who always criticizes you? Do you find yourself reaching for food when you’re zoning out alone in front of the television? Measure your hunger on a scale from 1 to 10. Are you only eating when really hungry—an eight, for example, or is your hunger level more like a three?

FIND AN ALTERNATIVE. Feeling bored? Find something to do that engages your mind. Read a book, play a crossword puzzle, do a hobby that uses your hands like knitting, playing guitar or woodworking. Anxious? Take a brisk walk, play with a pet or child, squeeze a stress ball or other physical activity. Lonely? Call a friend who makes you feel better or go to a local park and people watch. Depressed or exhausted? Take a soothing bath, treat yourself to a hot cup of tea or flavored water, take a short nap.

REMOVE TEMPTATION. Don’t keep sweets and fatty snacks around if you find them hard to resist. If they are already in your house, put them in a drawer or cupboard and out of sight. Remove that candy jar from your desk at work. Don’t go to the grocery or convenience store unless you really need something and you’re in a positive mood.

SNACK HEALTHY. If you have trouble resisting the urge to eat between meals, keep low-calorie and low-fat snacks around. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and popcorn are good alternatives that contain nutrients such as fiber to help you feel fuller longer.

DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP. No one is perfect. If you have an episode of emotional eating, let it go and start fresh the next day. Instead of criticizing yourself over it, learn from it and plan what you can do to prevent it from happening again. Focus on the fact that you are making positive changes in your life that will lead to a healthier and happier you.

Does a Flu shot really work?

DR. D art Flu shotEverywhere we look, we are being sold convenience. Smart phones allow you to check your email, the weather, and last night’s scores with just one swipe of the finger. Movies can be rented from a kiosk outside the gas station. Your favorite stores offer simple online shopping, with shipments right to your door.

But, there is one thing you shouldn’t trade for convenience: your health. Sure, it might be tempting to hop in line for a flu shot right after you picked up the bread and milk during this week’s grocery trip, but is it the best idea for you?

The short answer? No. A doctor’s office—your doctor’s office—is better equipped and prepared to ensure you get the care you need. They know you, and your medical history. They know about all of your allergies, even the ones you might have forgotten. And, they are better armed to address any complications that may occur from a shot.

Each year, anywhere from 5-20% of U.S. residents contract the flu. The flu season generally starts in the fall, hitting the highest numbers of cases in January and February. The flu does not discriminate, although those most at risk are children under the age of five and senior citizens, age 65 and older. Most cases of the flu last one to two weeks, with pneumonia and dehydration possible in bad cases.

Symptoms of the flu include a high fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, a cough or sore throat, and often nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. These symptoms usually mimic those of a cold, although tend to be much worse. This makes getting the flu shot even more important—all “convenience” goes out the window when you have to take multiple sick days off work, or need to take care of an ill child or elderly family member.

By being proactive, and by seeking the most experienced care, you can greatly lower your chances of being in that 5-20%. Getting the flu vaccine allows antibodies to build up in your body, providing protection against infection. The Center for Disease Control recommends that everyone ages six months and older receive the vaccination.

Getting your flu shot now will help you and your loved ones. By protecting yourself from the flu, you also are protecting those around you who are more vulnerable to illness. The vaccine also helps to prevent extreme cases of the flu and greatly diminishes the number of flu-related hospitalizations across all ages.

Flu season is just around the corner. Call Dr. Schumacher today at 614-299-9909 to schedule your shot. Most insurance carriers cover the shot, and our office will work with you to find a time that best fits your schedule. Leave the grocery store for the bread and milk. Your health is too important.

3 Reasons Why Triglycerides Matter

DR. D artB1If you’ve been keeping an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, there’s something else you might need to monitor: your triglycerides.

Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts any calories it doesn’t need to use right away into triglycerides. These triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Throughout the day, hormones release your triglycerides for energy between meals.

So what does this mean for you and your health? Here are 3 reasons why monitoring your triglycerides are important:

1. It’s an important measure of heart health

Having a high level of triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease. High triglyceride levels may contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls (atherosclerosis) — which increases the risk of a heart attack and heart disease.

A simple blood test can reveal whether your triglycerides fall into a healthy range. Your doctor will usually check for high triglycerides as part of a cholesterol test (sometimes called a lipid panel or lipid profile). In order to receive an accurate triglyceride measurement, fasting for nine to 12 hours is recommended.

The national guidelines for fasting triglyceride levels in healthy adults are:

  • Normal: Under 150 mg/dl
  • Borderline High: 151–200 mg/dl
  • High: 201–499 mg/dl
  • Very High: 500 mg/dl or higher

Levels higher than 200 mg/dl are associated with an increase in the risk of heart attack, stroke and death. Levels higher than 300mg/dl are associated with pancreatitis.

But what causes high triglyceride levels? First, it can be genetic. Having a genetic predisposition to diabetes mellitus (DM)–a chronic metabolic disorder in which the use of carbohydrate is impaired and that of lipid and protein is enhanced–can be related to higher triglycerides.

Additionally, your diet can affect your levels. Eating a diet high in carbohydrates can raise your level of triglycerides. The body turns carbohydrates into glucose to use for fuel, but will store excess glucose as fat. Even if you maintain a low-carb diet, some people are still very sensitive to carbohydrates. This heightened sensitivity may cause their triglyceride levels to higher than normal.

2. It’s different than cholesterol

Triglycerides and cholesterol are both fatty substances known as lipids. However, triglycerides are fats; cholesterol is not. Cholesterol is a waxy, odorless substance made by the liver that is an essential part of cell walls and nerves.

Cholesterol also plays an important role in body functions such as digestion and hormone production. In addition to being produced by the body, cholesterol comes

Pure cholesterol cannot mix with or dissolve in the blood. Therefore, the liver packages cholesterol with triglycerides and proteins in carriers called lipoproteins. The lipoproteins then move this fatty mixture to areas throughout the body, leading to an increased risk of heart disease.

3. High levels may increase your risk for other medical problems

High triglycerides are often a sign of other conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, including obesity and metabolic syndrome. All of these conditions include too much fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high blood sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Sometimes high triglycerides are a sign of poorly controlled Type 2 diabetes, low levels of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism), liver or kidney disease, or rare genetic conditions that affect how your body converts fat to energy.

What’s the best way to lower triglycerides?

The American Heart Association recommends for those trying to lower their triglyceride level, to implement lifestyle changes such as diet, weight loss and physical activity. Although medication can help, triglycerides usually respond well to dietary and lifestyle changes.

Here are 8 easy tips to lower your triglyceride levels:

  • Lose weight. If you’re overweight, losing 5 to 10 pounds can help lower your triglycerides. Motivate yourself by focusing on the benefits of losing weight, such as more energy and improved health.
  • Cut back on calories. Remember that extra calories are converted to triglycerides and stored as fat. Reducing your calories will reduce triglycerides.
  • Avoid sugary and refined foods. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar and foods made with white flour, can increase triglycerides.
  • Limit carbohydrates in your diet. Eating a diet high in carbohydrates can raise your level of triglycerides. The body turns carbohydrates into glucose to use for fuel, but will store excess glucose as fat.
  • Choose healthier fats. Trade saturated fat found in meats for healthier monounsaturated fat found in plants, such as olive, peanut and canola oils. Substitute fish high in omega-3 fatty acids — such as mackerel and salmon — for red meat.
  • Eliminate trans fat. Trans fat can be found in some fried foods and commercial baked products, such as cookies, crackers and snack cakes. But don’t rely on packages that label their foods as free of trans fat. In the United States, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat a serving, it can be labeled trans fat-free. Even though those amounts seem small, they can add up quickly if you eat a lot of foods containing small amounts of trans fat. Instead, read the ingredients list. You can tell that a food has trans fat in it if it contains partially hydrogenated oil.
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol is high in calories and sugar and has a particularly potent effect on triglycerides. Even small amounts of alcohol can raise triglyceride levels.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most or all days of the week. Regular exercise can boost “good” cholesterol while lowering “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. Take a brisk daily walk, swim laps or join an exercise group. If you don’t have time to exercise for 30 minutes, try squeezing it in 10 minutes at a time. Take a short walk, climb the stairs at work, or try some situps or pushups as you watch television.

Now you know why triglycerides matter and some easy tips on how to lower your levels. If you have any further questions about triglycerides or would like to have your levels tested, please contact your doctor.

 

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Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/triglycerides/art-20048186?pg=2

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/risk-factors/cholesterol/triglycerides.aspx