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Ask Dr. Gott 3/1

Parkinson's treatable but incurable

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DEAR DR. GOTT: My 70-year-old father has just been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Is there any hope of recovery?
    DEAR READER: Parkinson's disease, a progressive and incurable neurological disorder, is relatively common. The cause is unknown. As yet, there is no specific test that will diagnose it.
    Standard Parkinson's is marked by a resting tremor and lack of coordination that can become severe. Fortunately, there is medication to control the movement disorder, but the therapy is not entirely consistent in its success.
    A variant of Parkinson's is notable for loss of memory, dementia (late in the disease), depression, shuffling gait and slowed reflexes. Imbalance may become a problem.
    Parkinson's progresses at varying rates. In some patients, it is relentless and leads to severe handicap early on, while other cases will stabilize for years. It is important for patients to be tested for other neurological afflictions that can resemble Parkinson's, such as stroke and brain tumors, that can be treated. Such patients should be examined by neurologists.
    To give you further information, I am sending you my new Health Report, "Parkinson's Disease."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: You might be interested in my preventive for pneumonia. You will need a pot of ivy inside your house. In the pot of ivy, place a frog. Any kind of frog will do. In fact, I have a middle-sized one and a small one in mine. If you do not wish to take on the care of a live frog, a dead or fake one will do. This really works. Since I started this about eight weeks ago, we have had no pneumonia in our household.
    DEAR READER: I am publishing your letter because your suggestion is so outrageous that it made me smile, and I wanted my other readers to see the kind of mail I sometimes receive when it pushes the limits of believability. Anyway, I hope that other readers will chuckle and, at least, avoid using live frogs.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am 52 and have been taking a beta blocker for 10 years. For some reason, my blood pressure has started to climb. The latest reading was 150/90. What should I do?
    DEAR READER: See your primary-care physician.
    As people age, their blood pressure may rise, even when they're on appropriate medication. I suspect that you will require a change in medication or dosage to bring your BP to 130/80 or less. You are fortunate because there are newer and more effective drugs available than there were 10 years ago. Your doctor can help you decide on a plan of action.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Hypertension."
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