Archives For December 2013

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One third of all deaths are caused from blood vessels “giving out”. Either they clog up or they break open. When this happens it’s called a stroke, heart attack, aneurism, or sudden death. Strokes are particularly scary because they leave people debilitated and partially paralyzed.

Most often these events happen without warning. They are silent killers because we can can’t see them developing. If we could see inside the vessels that carry life sustain nutrients to our brain and other vital organs becoming red, inflamed, hardening, scaring, tearing, thinning, scabbing over with plaque, and breaking would be compelled to take sudden and aggressive action? If there was a drug to prevent this, would you take it?

If there was a drug to prevent this, would you take it? Well there is a drug that when given to 48 patients with heart disease for 3 to 5 years it will consistently prevent one death in that group that normally would have happened if left untreated. This drug is proven to save the lives. But what if you don’t have heart disease? What if you just want to avoid a heart attack, stroke, or just live longer? Well, treating about 60 patients at risk for heart disease with this drug for 4 years consistently prevents one NON-fatal heart attack or stroke.

It’s Important to know who is at risk because those people benefit the most. They are people with extremely high LDL cholesterol, middle-aged people with type 2 diabetes, people with smoking habits, and those who use blood pressure medicines. Also, men and women 40 to 75 who have an estimated 10-year risk of heart or blood vessel problems of 7.5% or higher according to this website: http://cvdrisk.nhlbi.nih.gov/

Before I tell you the name of this drug, let me just say that if you have been reading my blogs you know that in my opinion all drugs are good and bad depending on the situation. Most things in life are that way. Always gray, never black or white. Even water and oxygen are bad in excessive amounts. If you drink too much water it causes electrolyte imbalances, if you consume too much oxygen, your blood chemistry goes off.

This drug, rather this group of drugs, in my opinion is an extreme case of both good and bad. The group of drugs is called Statins. Specific names for these products are called, advicor, atorvastin, rosuvastatin, crestor, lescol, fluvastain, Lipitor, pitavastatin, livalo, mevacor, lovastatin, prachol, pravastatin, mevacor, lovastatin, Zocor, simvastatin.

Time for some bad news: the number one side effect of this drug is muscle pain much like the feeling after you have just run a marathon. The spectrum ranges from the more common but less severe myalgia (5%-10%) to the less common but more severe myopathy (0.1%) and its potentially fatal complication, rhabdomyolysis (0.01%).

Fortunately there are steps to ward off these effects: optimize your vitamin d levels with a supplement, and take coenzyme Q10. If you have any muscle fatigue or pain I recommend talking to your doctor about switching to another statin drug and/or taking the drug every OTHER day.

Remember these drugs save lives so don’t ever take yourself off this or any drug that is prescribed by a medical doctor. It’s worth repeating.

In the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study of men without a history of coronary artery disease, the risk of all-cause mortality was reduced 33% more among those who took 75% or more of their prescribed medication compared with those taking less than 75%.

These drugs are also being studied to preserve eyesight, prevent osteoporosis, reduce inflammation, protection of the kidneys when exposed to radioactive contrast dye, prevention of blood clots, and much, much more. It is even used in Progeria, the premature aging disease of young children who look like they are very elderly.

No other drug group can claim all that. Statins are the closest thing to an antiaging medical miracle that is on the market today.

So, How do fish oils and niacin compare? They lower triglyercerides, and niacin also increases the good cholesterol HDL. But does having the right numbers translate into fewer heart attacks and strokes? If you gave someone an infusion of HDL good cholesterol, will they be healthier? No! They will develop liver problems. Good numbers without the lifestyle to produce them does not mean you are healthy.

The FDA won’t even allow the prescription omega3 product to claim that it reduces the incidence of heart attack or stroke. The only thing this product is allowed to claim is that it lowers triglycerides.

Just recently, November 2013, medical experts lowered the criteria for taking a statin. More people are now eligible for this life extending drug if they chose to take it. A lot of people criticized this decision but would you rather be denied access to it? Or would you rather be allowed to make an educated decision with your doctor as to whether it is right for you?

Stay tuned for drug interactions with statins that can trigger muscle problems and other less common side effects caused by statins. It’s important to get the whole story. You might even want to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss it or any other articles similar to this….POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

pills3There is a NON-prescription drug so amazing it can keep you out of the ER (It’s NOT benadry). Why doesn’t the world know about it?

This drug is called chlorhexadine and it is an antibacterial soap. It costs about 5 dollars for a 4 ounce bottle that can last for years if used it sparingly. It’s available as generic and name brand and can be purchased at any drug store.

And what would you use it for? Superficial open skin infections. It’s like miracle grow for the skin. If you have a skin infection that is just festering and slowly getting worse everyday, this drug can turn things around and get it healed in record time. The disclaimer is that if the skin infection continues to get worse even with the use of this soap or the skin infection is getting worse fast, get to the ER asap. It could be that you have the flesh eating bacteria. Scary I know. But you don’t want to take chances with those bugs because they are fast and agressive. But if the infection is a slowly progressing and superficial infection, this soap can prevent it from getting worse and allow it to heal.

So how do you use this soap? Put about a tablespoon in about 1 gallon of warm water and make a soak for a hand or foot. If you have a sore on another part of your body, say your knee or gential area (private and embarrassing), then put about a 1/4 cup in a small bath of warm water and soak. This could eleminate a very emarrasing trip to the ER.

This soap is so amazing we use it in the hospital for lots of reasons; as a skin cleaser before open heart surgeries, before the placement of cathers into the skin, and in patients who are on a ventilator in the ICU unit. In these patients bacteria can travel down the airway tube into the lungs and cause pneumonia. They found when the mouth was washed with an oral form of this soap the rate of pneumania goes down.

Outside of the hospital this drug is commonly used for mouth and gum infections in the form of a prescription mouth wash. Dentists usually prescribe it for gingivitis. (I even use it to gargle with when I have a soar throat. But that is a non-approved use and one of my drug secrets. Shhhh, don’t tell.)

It is important to realize that this product should never replace antibiotic pills. If the skin infection is deep, it can irritate the wound and make it worse. Also, never use in the eyes, it can cause damage. And, never use it if you don’t need it. That is true for any antibiotic because the bacteria can become resistant to it.

The good news is that it’s safe and according to the hibiclens package insert it has been extensively used for over 20 years outside the United States has produced no evidence of absorption of the compound through intact skin. The potential for producing skin reactions is extremely low…..POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

imagesCAPECJAMSome people call me an enlightened being, but I’m not. I just simply kept a journal for a large part of my life. I wrote down my thoughts and feeling relative to what was happening around me. I was extremely honest with my feelings and always said exactly how I felt to my journal. I didn’t have to sugar coat them like I sometimes do around people to protect them from my negatives thoughts.

That lead me to realize that there is nothing more important in life than relationships; my relationship with my mother, father, sister, husband, children, nieces and nephews, coworkers and strangers in need of help and encouragement.

I have discovered that it is healthy relationships that make me feel warm and fuzzy and good about myself and what I am doing.

Health is the second most important thing in life….in my opinion. Good health is necessary for good energy, and our energy is what fuels our relationship. It’s the energy we put into making a meal for our family and friends. It’s our energy that organizes and puts together parties and celebrations. Also when we are feeling bad, we are grumpy and less likely to forgive and let go. When we feel good we laugh, and laughter is the glue between two people. If you share laughter, nothing can tear you apart.

Money is the third most important thing in my opinion. We need money to take care of ourselves and other people in or lives. I have been blessed with money and I have realized that spending it on my family and friends is more valuable than any possession I could own. The acquisition of material things for one’s self has a fleeting thrill only lasting days or weeks. I have seen people who use money for only themselves and they sabotage and damage their relationship by making other people feel bad.

Making people feel good about themselves is another glue I use in relationship. But I never flatter. People always know when you are flattering them for the purpose of manipulation. It always backfires.

I try not to let anything damage my healthy relationships. One time my cleaning lady was taking a really long time to clean the house and I wanted to use my kitchen. I became angry and wanted to tell her to speed things up….but I didn’t. Instead I spent quite time doing something relaxing and reminding myself that it took years to build the trust and love that we share. I didn’t want to ruin it in an instant over something trivial.

My relationships are truly my most valuable possession and I am happy person as a result.

(Disclaimer: someone once told me that it is always the person with money that says money doesn’t matter, and it’s the person with beauty that says beauty doesn’t matter. I feel like there is some truth to that, but let me reassure you that after you acquire both, they are meaningless. I don’t want you to go through life trying to aquire money and beauty only to say, “this is meaningless, why didn’t anyone tell me.” I’m telling you now, go straight for the relationships and don’t worry about the rest. Xoxo) POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

imagesCAW89QCFIf you have been reading my blogs you know that I prefer prescription drugs over supplements because prescriptions drugs are standardized and tested to be safe and effective. Supplements are not. The down side to prescription weight loss drugs is that you need permission from your doctor and your insurance may or may not pay for them. Be prepared to pay cash for them and and get a price quote. Insurance will most likely pay for antidepressants and diabetic medications that double as weight loss medications. See the list below.

The diabetic medications exenatide and liraglutide have been tested in diabetics and non diabetics according to this review of several studies publihed by Vilsboll T, Christensen M, Junker AE, et al. Effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists on weight loss: Systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. BMJ 2012; 344:d7771. However, these diabetic medicines work slowly and consistently over time. If your doctor prescribes a diabetic medication, you might want to ask her if you can try these first because some diabetic medications cause weight gain. Stay tuned for the blog on drugs that make you gain weight.

Antidepressants have the pleasant side effect of elevating your mood as well as helping you lose weight. But not all antidepressants cause weight loss, some cause weight gain. Doctors a lot of times will let you try various antidepressants to see which ones resolve your symptoms, so it’s good to know which ones cause weight gain. I will include those medications in the future blog on drugs that make you fat and alternatives to ask your doctor about.

My number one recommendation for prescription weight loss is Bupropion. Originally marketed as an antidepressant, it’s used to treat any sort of addictive behavior like smoking, bulimia, and cocaine dependance. It’s important to do your research before asking your doctor for a prescription. In addition to checking the cash price, I’d also print out the prescribing information for your doctor incase she asks for it. I also recommend you read the patient information on the website MedlinePlus. I like this website for patient information because they do not have tricky advertisements disguised as news information.

After doing the necessary research I’d gently bring up the subject and say something like….”Dr., as you know I’ve been struggling with my weight/elevated blood sugar/elevated blood pressure/sleep apnea, and I was wondering if one of the following drugs might help me in my efforts to lose weight.” Then I would produce the following list of medications. The average wieght loss of these medications was formulated based on the article by LeBlanc ES, O’Connor E, Whitlock EP, et al. Effectiveness of primary care-relevant treatments for obesity in adults: A systematic evidence review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med 2011; 155:434. which reviewed 6498 abstracts and 648 articles.

If your doctor does not prescribe a medications listed below, ask her if you can take a dietary supplement listed in a previous blog of mine called Dietary Supplements That Make You healthier Than Ever. But whatever you do, don’t give up the good fight to stay healthy and fit. There is help.

The following are a list of prescription weight loss drugs, the average amount of weight loss during the study, and important information regarding that drug.

  1. Orlistat (Alli) ≥1 year was 5.3 kg  (11lbs 10oz) Prevents the absorption of fat. FYI:wear a diaper due to uncontrollable fatty diarrhea. Take three times per day, taken with a meal; you can skip a dose if you skip a meal or if the meal contains no fat.
  2. Fluoxetine (Prozac) at 24 weeks there was a 4.8 kg (10 lbs 9oz) weight loss. Originally an antidepressant.
  3. Bupropion (Wellbutrin)***my #1 recommendation. At 24 weeks there was 8.0 kg (17lbs 10oz) weight loss. Originally an antidepressant, helps with food cravings and also used to quit smoking.
  4. Bupropion and Naltrexone combined (Contrave) at  ≥1 year there was a 8.7 kg (19 lbs  2 oz) weight loss. Each ingredient sold separately. Can cause constipation even though it is NOT a stimulant.
  5. Exenatide (Beyetta) At 24 weeks there was 2.9 kg (6 lbs 6 oz) A diabetic medication. Requires injection, frequent GI side effects, long-term safety not established, expensive.
  6. Liraglutide (Victoza)  At 24 weeks there was a 2.8 kg (6 lbs 2 oz) A diabetic medication. Requires injection, frequent GI side effects, long-term safety not established, expensive
  7. Metformin (Glucophage) At 1 year there was an average weight loss of 2.8 kg (6 lbs 2 oz) originally a diabetic medication, GI side effects, contraindicated with renal insufficiency, can throw-off your body chemistry.
  8. Lorcaserin (Belviq)     1 year -5.8 kg (12 lbs 12 oz) increases happy hormones in brain, do not take with stimulants or antidepressants. do not take if have kidney problems.
  9. Phentermine (Adipex, Qsymia) at 13 weeks there  was a 6.4 kg (14lbs 1 oz) weight loss: stimulant, increase in blood pressure, heart rate, dry mouth, constipation, insomnia…this is true for all stimulants. see below. It is also a controlled substance.
  10. Diethylpropion (Tenuate) at 18 weeks there was a 6.5 kg  (14 lbs 5 oz) weight loss. It is a stimulant, controlled substance.
  11. Mazindol (Sanorex, Mazanor) at 11 weeks there was 5.7 kg (12.9 lbs oz) weight loss. It is a stimulant and controlled substance.
  12. Phen/Topiramate (sold separately Adipex and Topamax)    ≥1 year -10.2 kg (22 lbs 7 oz) phen is a stimulant, topiramate originally used for seizures and headaches, do not stop suddenly or you can get a seizure. causes birth defects,
  13. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!