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Ask Dr. Gott 10/13

Blood-flow blockage not Alzheimer’s

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Posted: October 12, 2007 1:40 p.m.
Updated: October 27, 2007 5:01 a.m.
   DEAR DR. GOTT: Because of dizziness, I had circulation tests of both my brain and the arteries in my neck which showed only minor hardening of the arteries. Does that mean I will have Alzheimer’s from the hardening of the arteries?
    DEAR READER: As we grow older, we develop calcium blockages in most arteries, including the carotid arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.
    If you have “minor” blockages, you needn’t be concerned. This condition is unrelated to Alzheimer’s disease. However, you should be followed up with ultrasound testing every year or so to check the amount of hardening and see if any blockages have formed. I believe that you should undergo further testing to identify the cause of your dizziness. Your primary care physician can advise you further.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Here’s another leg-cramps story. I am a 69-year-old woman. A few months ago I began to have them occasionally, usually shortly before my normal morning waking time. None of my medications had changed and none was known to cause this kind of side effect.
    I tried your soap-under-the-bottom-sheet preventive measure, and it did seem to help for a while. I also found that rubbing a damp cake of soap on the cramping area in my calf quickly reduced its intensity.
    Then the cramps began to be more frequent and more intense, so I looked for more ways to prevent them. I took to riding my exercise bicycle before bedtime and doing “wall pushups” every time I was up during the night (for toilet trips). When the cramps came, I walked them off by striding up and down in the bedroom. But they were becoming more and more painful and more and more frequent, despite all these measures.
    Then I found an article that mentioned bananas as a possible preventive, and I began to eat a banana every day. It has been almost a month now, and I’ve had no cramps since I began this regimen.
    So, for any of your readers who’ve tried the soap remedy and any other such “cures” without adequate relief, I hereby suggest giving bananas a try.
    DEAR READER: Bananas and dried fruit are rich sources of potassium, a mineral that is vital for good health. Potassium deficiency (from diet or medication) can cause leg cramps. Perhaps this explains your success. In any case, I am reporting your finding and hope to hear from other readers.
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