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Ask Dr. Gott 2/28

Niacin a possible alternative to Lipitor

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Posted: February 27, 2007 5:14 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2007 5:00 a.m.
DEAR DR. GOTT: In 1990, my husband had a serious heart attack, at which time his cholesterol was 165. He had open-heart surgery with a five-way bypass in 1996.
He is 78 years old and in very good condition, very active and works every day doing yard maintenance for a large estate.
In January, his cholesterol was 220, LDL 83, HDL 61 and triglycerides 87. His doctor wanted him to start taking Lipitor, 10 milligrams. My husband said no way and decided to see what oatmeal would do for him. We have eaten oatmeal every day for breakfast since then. Now his readings are LDL 69, HDL 45, triglycerides 83 and cholesterol 231.
    His doctor still wants him to start a Lipitor regimen. The only other meds he takes is Altace and a St. Joseph's aspirin once a day.
He has a good relationship with his doctor but really questions the need for a statin med at his age.
    DEAR READER: I share your concerns about statin drug therapy for your husband. These drugs have side effects, such as liver inflammation and muscle damage. However, rather than just dropping the issue, your husband might consider a compromise: niacin, a vitamin that is relatively free of complications, is inexpensive and often effective. Ask his doctor whether a trial of niacin would be appropriate.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Understanding Cholesterol." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Your column in our local paper is one of the first items I read (after the obits, to make sure my name is not there).
I'm 85 and in good health, discounting arthritis from jaw to toes, which I jokingly say is the sins of my youth catching up with me. I read your item on leg cramps and tried it. It wasn't very clear as to where to put the soap, so I put it at my ankles. It didn't work. At that point, I went back to the quinine sulfate that I had been using for years.
    Due to arthritis, both of my knees have almost given out on me, and seeing your column on the use of castor oil on joint pain, I tried it on my knee. It worked like a charm. However, I wanted to see if really worked or if this was only a one-time shot. It has now been a week, and it is still working. To me, the question was, why? My reason is that, when you rub the castor oil into a joint, it generates heat that helps blood flow to the area, and, with some cover, it keeps it there. As the castor oil dries, it leaves a film on that area that helps keep the area warm and it is cheaper than anything else that could be used.
    Thanks for keeping us "mature citizens" healthy.
    DEAR READER: Your explanation appears to be valid, but if you are incorrect, that's OK. Results, not theories, are what count. You might consider a trial of a product called Castiva, which comes in a cooling or warming form. The odorless castor-oil base is reported to accelerate the absorption of the formula into the inflamed joint areas for faster pain relief. Thanks for writing.
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