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As cases of obesity and diabetes are on the rise, so are their complications. One complication that has recently been a point of focus for the American Heart Association (AHA) is high triglyceride levels.

close up of woman taking fish oil capsules

 Prescription medication with omega-3 fatty acids may have cardiovascular benefits, new research suggests.

Triglycerides are fats in the blood. Some are naturally produced by the liver, while others come from calories that the body doesn’t need to use immediately. The more calories a person takes in, the likelier they are to have a high triglyceride count.

Higher levels, calculated as above 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl), can increase a person’s risk of having a stroke or heart attackby causing a narrowing of the arteries.

Estimates suggest that around a quarter of the adult population of the United States may have triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dl.

Exceedingly high levels — above 500 mg/dl — can also result in inflammation of the pancreas, otherwise known as pancreatitis.

Thankfully, there are a few ways to reduce triglyceride levels. Getting regular exercise, reducing alcohol consumption, and eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates can help, as can other steps to maintain a healthy weight, such as swapping saturated for unsaturated fats.