National Cholesterol Education Month

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Did you know that high cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States? In honor of National Cholesterol Education Month, learn about the dangers of high cholesterol.

Good vs. Bad Cholesterol

The two main types of cholesterol are high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Lipoproteins are made of fat and proteins. Cholesterol moves through your body while inside lipoproteins.

  • LDL (Bad) Cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein is known as “bad cholesterol” because it takes cholesterol to your arteries.3 Plaque buildup narrows arteries and raises the risk for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease.
  • HDL (Good) Cholesterol: High-density lipoprotein is known as “good cholesterol” because it transports cholesterol to your liver to be expelled from your body.3 HDL can help decrease the risk of heart disease.

Causes of High Cholesterol

There are a few lifestyle factors that may cause high cholesterol. Behaviors that can negatively affect your cholesterol levels are an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, smoking or obesity. Unfortunately, high cholesterol usually has no symptoms. It’s important as an adult (age 20+) to get tested once every 4 to 6 years.5

Misconceptions About Cholesterol

  • Misconception: You don’t need your cholesterol checked until middle age.2
    • Fact: The American Heart Association recommends all adults 20 and older have their cholesterol checked every four to six years.2
  • Misconception: Thin people don’t have high cholesterol.2
    • Fact: While overweigh people are more likely to have high cholesterol, thin people can also be affected.2
  • Misconception: With medications, no lifestyle changes are needed.2
    • Fact: Medications can help control cholesterol levels, but diet and lifestyle changes are the best way to reduce heart disease and stroke risk.2
  • Misconception: If the Nutrition Facts label shows no cholesterol, the food is “heart healthy.”2
    • Fact: A lot of times foods that are marked as “low cholesterol” have high levels of saturated or trans-fat, which raise cholesterol.2

Treatment of High Cholesterol

Working with your health care provider can lower your cholesterol, which will reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Lifestyle changes such as eating a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise, avoiding tobacco and losing weight (if overweight or obese) are all things that can lower your cholesterol. However, these lifestyle changes may not work for everyone, in which case, there are many medications available. Statins are recommended for most patients, but your doctor may consider other options as well.

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. national-cholesterol-education-month-ucm_500458.pdf (heart.org)
  2. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol/common-misconceptions-about-cholesterol#.WaYA_BjMwdU
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/hdl-vs-ldl-cholesterol#hdl-vs-ldl
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/symptoms-causes/syc-20350800
  5. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/how-to-get-your-cholesterol-tested

A Guide to Mental Health in 2021

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COVID-19 has had a big impact on many people’s emotional well-being. Mental health is important at every stage of life as it determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.2 It’s crucial to know the basics of mental illness so you can take care of yourself and your loved ones.1

Why is Mental Health Important

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines mental health as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.2 Depending on many factors, your mental health can change over time. Mental health is a component of overall health and well-being. For instance, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems. Additionally, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.2 Some common mental health disorders include:1

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Many factors contribute to mental health problems such as genes, trauma, brain chemistry and family history of mental health problems.4

Warning Signs of Mental Health Problems

If you aren’t sure if you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health problem, common warning signs include:4

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Experiencing mood swings
  • Inability to perform daily tasks

Myths and Facts Surrounding Mental Health

Misunderstandings around mental illness can fuel stigma and make it harder to reach out for help. Take this mental health quiz to see if you know the myths from the facts.2

Mental Health by the Numbers

Mental illnesses are very common health conditions in the United States:

  • More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.2
  • 1 in 25 Americans live with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.2
  • 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.2
  • 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.3
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 10-34.3

Tria Health and Mental Health

Many patients decide to take medications to effectively manage their mental health. There are a variety of mental health medications currently on the market, ranging from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to atypical antidepressants. Because there isn’t a test to measure to brain chemicals, it can be a trial-and-error process to identify the best treatment for a patient. If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. If you’re interested in exploring medication treatments for mental health, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. Your Guide to Mental Health and Wellness in 2021 – Port St. Lucie Hospital (portstluciehospitalinc.com)
  2. About Mental Health (cdc.gov)
  3. Mental Health Month 2021 – National Council for Mental Wellbeing « National Council (thenationalcouncil.org)
  4. What Is Mental Health? | MentalHealth.gov

Similarities and Differences Between COVID-19 and the Flu

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Fall is approaching which means flu season is also. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have heard that the coronavirus is similar to the flu.2 Both are contagious respiratory illnesses, but there are some key differences between the two.3

 Similarities Between COVID-19 and the Flu

For both COVID-19 and the flu, one or more days can pass between when a person becomes infected and when he or she starts to experience symptoms.1 Both of these viruses can spread in similar ways. They spread through respiratory droplets or aerosols released while talking, sneezing, or walking.2 COVID-19 and the flu have many signs and symptoms including:2

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain or body ached

The signs and symptoms for these viruses can range from no symptoms to mild or severe.2 COVID-19 and the flu can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, organ failure, heart attacks or stroke.2

Differences Between COVID-19 and the Flu

A few key differences between COVID-19 and the flu are:

  • While with COVID-19, you may experience symptoms two to 14 days after exposure, flu symptoms normally appear about one to four days after exposure.2
  • Severe illnesses are more frequent with COVID-19.2
  • A person with COVID-19 is contagious for a longer time than if they had the flu.1
  • COVID-19 is generally more contagious than flu viruses.1
  • COVID-19 illnesses resulting in hospitalization and death can occur even in healthy people.1

How may COVID-19 affect this year’s flu season?

During this year’s flu season, it is possible that the viruses that cause COVID-19 and the flu may spread at the same time.2 There are a few steps that you can take to reduce your risk of infection from both viruses:

  • Getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccine
  • Avoid close contact with anyone outside your household2
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds2
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze2
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth2

How can Tria help?

If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. Many of our patients are at a higher risk for serious illness with COVID-19 and the flu. Our pharmacists have been actively educating engaged patients on risk factors and the importance of prevention techniques. We are committed to assisting members with any questions they may have about their medications, risk factors or ways they can mitigate their risk. 

Questions?

Contact the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. Similarities and Differences between Flu and COVID-19​ | CDC
  2. COVID-19 (coronavirus) vs. flu: Similarities and differences – Mayo Clinic
  3. Similarities and Differences Between Flu and COVID-19 | University of Utah Health

How to Allergy-Proof Your Home

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Allergens such dust, mold or pollen can make indoor spaces uncomfortable. Whether you have allergies year-round or only experience them during a certain season, there are steps you can take to reduce allergens in your home!

Allergy Symptoms

Common allergy symptoms include watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, rash or hives. More serious symptoms include swelling in the mouth or throat and trouble breathing.2

Bedroom

  • Bedding: Use dust-mite proof covers on pillows, mattresses and box springs. At least once a week, wash pillowcases, blankets and sheets.1
  • Flooring: Limit the number of rugs in your home and wash any that are washable.1 If you have carpet, it is important to shampoo it frequently.
  • Air filtration: Using an air filter can aid against allergens. Make sure that it is a certified asthma and allergy friendly filter. Try choosing an air filter that has a small particle or high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA).1 

Living Room

  • Windows: Rely on air conditioning only during pollen season and close your windows. Clean any mold and condensation from window frames and sills.1
  • Curtains: Use washable curtains made of cotton or synthetic fabric.1
  • Fireplaces: Avoid use of wood-burning fireplaces or stoves because smoke and gases can worsen respiratory allergies.1

Kitchen

  • Stove: Utilizing a vented exhaust fan to remove cooking fumes and moisture can help reduce allergens.1
  • Sink: To remove mold and food debris, thoroughly scrub sink and faucets.1
  • Cabinets and counter: Check under-sink cabinets for any plumbing leaks and clean counters with detergent and water.1

Bathroom

  • Shower and tub: If there is any mold in or around the tub, scrub it with bleach. Clean or replace moldy shower curtains and bathmats.1
  • Toilet and sink: Repair any leaks and scrub mold from the plumbing fixtures.1

There are a few other ways you can minimize your exposure to allergens. When coming in from outside, remove your shoes and change clothing to rid of any allergens you may bring into the home. Additionally, shower before bed to remove any possible triggers such as tree, weeds, pollen, grass, or dander.

Tria Health Can Answer Your Medication Questions

If Tria Health is offered through your benefits plan, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one, private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins and supplements. If you’re interested in exploring medication treatments for allergies, Tria’s pharmacist will be able to provide you with recommendations.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. Allergy-proof your home – Mayo Clinic
  2. Allergies and Allergic Reactions | AAFA.org | AAFA | Allergies

National Immunization Awareness Month

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National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is a campaign held each August to raise awareness on the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.1 It is especially important for patients with chronic health conditions to be up to date on recommended vaccinations, since they are at increased risk for complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases.8

Importance and Safety of Immunizations

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines immunization as a process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination.2 Immunizations save lives as they offer protection against numerous diseases. Without vaccines, people with weakened immune systems are more at risk.4

If you are concerned about the safety of vaccinations, know that they are thoroughly tested before being released to the public.4 Both the CDC and FDA continue to track the safety of all licensed vaccines.5 The CDC tracks the safety of vaccinations through The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS was created in 1990 to detect any potential safety issues with U.S. vaccines. If anyone experiences problems after an immunization, they can submit a report to VAERS. This monitoring system makes it possible to spot any unusual side effects from vaccinations as well as identify any risks for health issues related to vaccinations. If you are ever concerned about the safety of immunizations, you can have peace of mind knowing they are constantly being monitored.6

Adult and Childhood Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Below are some serious adult and childhood diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations.2

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles
  • Mumps

To discover more vaccine preventable diseases, check out: Diseases and the Vaccines That Prevent Them | CDC.

Effectiveness of Vaccinations

Facts and figures that show the effectiveness of vaccinations:

  • According to the World Health Organization, immunizations prevent 2-3 million deaths every year from vaccine-preventable diseases.7
  • It is estimated that vaccinations prevented 26 million cases of childhood disease in the U.S. in the past decade.7
  • The flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60%.5

What Vaccinations Do I Need?

The CDC produced a vaccination schedule for all to follow (the recommended schedule can be found here). Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about your vaccination history or what vaccine requirements you have.

How Pharmacists can Help

Pharmacists are also in a unique position to identify those patients who are in target groups for certain vaccinations.3 They may also be able to ease the fears of many patients by providing them with facts such as clinical data and by dispelling common misconceptions and myths about vaccinations; they can also stress the significant risks associated with not being vaccinated.

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients. With Tria, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins, supplements and lifestyle habits. Your pharmacist will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding vaccinations.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. National Immunization Awareness Month (aap.org)
  2. Immunization Basics | CDC
  3. Adult Vaccination Rates Are Rising but Fall Short (pharmacytimes.com)
  4. Five important reasons to vaccinate your child – APIC
  5. Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Do the Flu Vaccines Work? | CDC
  6. VAERS | Vaccine Safety | CDC
  7. VOM-Vaccines-Global-JUN2019.PDF (pfizer.com)
  8. NIAM Key Messages: Communicating with Parents and Patients | CDC