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Ask Dr. Gott
High blood pressure worries a friend
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DEAR DR. GOTT: This is the scenario:
72-year-old female, 5 feet 5 inches, 135 pounds.
Very active due to owning and operating heifer dairy ranch.
She and her husband have their hands-on operation still!
Has always had high blood pressure and is on pills for it.
Had TIA last year. Was confused from 8 a.m. until it cleared at 4 p.m. Spent that time in the hospital getting checked, then released.
Her medications were increased to three for blood pressure, which consist of Atenolol, Norvasc and Lisinopril.
    My concern for my friend is her blood pressure will still be in the 159/85 range when she takes it randomly at home. (She has stopped taking it or telling me because she can tell I am worried about it.)
Her understandable comment is, "I am on three medicines, what more can they do"?
    I am writing to you to ask your opinion.
    My friend had a stress test two years ago and her heart is good.
    DEAR READER: With the many effective medications available to treat high blood pressure, there is -- as a general rule -- no reason why an otherwise healthy adult cannot have his or her blood pressure brought into the normal range (120/80 or below). I suspect that your friend needs a dosage adjustment or a change in drugs. If her primary care physician has been unable to address this issue successfully, I recommend that she be referred to a cardiologist for a consultation and modification in therapy.
    For example, she may not be receiving maximum dosages of medicine, so her problem might be solved by stopping one of the three drugs she is taking, at the same time increasing the level of one of the others. In any case, 159/85 is too high and should not be ignored. The fact that your friend suffered a transient ischemic attack ("mini-stroke") is all the more reason to focus in on the numbers. Please convince her to follow up with her doctor -- and appropriate specialists -- and not "sit on her hands" until a catastrophe occurs.
    To give you related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports "Hypertension" and "Stroke." 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: Thank you for being there for us. I enjoy your column and learn from it. Now I need your help. I am an 80-year-old woman in fairly good heath except that I've been plagued with colds and respiratory infections -- this year two bouts with bronchitis and colds. Is there anything I can do to ward off these illnesses -- anything that would strengthen my immune system?
    DEAR READER: Unfortunately, as all of us age, our immune systems weaken. During the winter season of upper respiratory viral infections, the prudent senior should try to avoid situations that are marked by exposure to respiratory viruses, such as flying, crowds in stores or close contact with ill family members.
    To build up your immune system, get adequate rest (8 to 10 hours at night), eat a nutritious diet that includes fresh fruits and take a multivitamin. Good luck.
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