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Ask Dr. Gott 6/19

Exercise not enough to lower cholesterol

    DEAR DR. GOTT: My husband is 56 years old. Every year he has a blood test to monitor his cholesterol levels. Here is his profile: cholesterol 200, triglycerides 322, HDL 39 and LDL 97. Last year his triglycerides were also elevated at 287, with normal being less than 150. His primary physician is not concerned about the triglycerides and says not to worry about it, just exercise more to increase the HDL. What do you think?
    DEAR READER: Your husband's triglyceride level is about twice normal. This places him somewhat at risk for cardiovascular disease. I suggest that in addition to exercise, he should follow a low-cholesterol diet, lose weight if he is stout, reduce his alcohol consumption (if he consumes more than one or two drinks daily), consider taking omega fish oil or flaxseed supplements and be rechecked in six months.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Understanding Cholesterol."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am 79 years old and have spinal stenosis, which is very painful. I know that spinal stenosis affects the nerves, and in all probability it is pressing on the nerves in both my legs, causing pain. The pain goes to my buttocks and down both legs, and sometimes my feet get numb.
    I have tried everything. Right now nothing helps to alleviate even some of the pain. I am taking at least four Vicodin a day.
    One doctor recommended an operation. I'm not sure if even an operation would help. Do you have any information that would help me alleviate the pain? So far no medicine has done the trick. I am going for therapy, but even that doesn't help. Should I be doing any exercise or therapy at home?
    DEAR READER: Spinal stenosis refers to leg and buttock pain due to an area of nerve compression in the spine. Although conservative measures — such as physical therapy, pain medication, acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and other modalities — are often effective cures early in the game, surgery may be necessary.
    It sounds to me that you have exhausted nonsurgical options and that your quality of life is suffering as a consequence. I urge you to see a neurosurgeon to confirm that you are a good surgical candidate. Then proceed and let me know your decision.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: At age 66, I use 1,000 milligrams flaxseed oil daily prescribed by my doctor. My cholesterol level was 222, and in six months time, it was down to 198. The good and bad levels also improved drastically.
    DEAR READER: This is No. 3 in the list of nonstatin treatments for high cholesterol levels.
    Because my mail is peppered with readers' letters concerning the bad affects of statin drugs, I feel obligated to pass along information about safer alternatives. Flaxseed oil, omega fish oil and the vitamin niacin appear to be satisfying choices. I'll keep you updated.

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