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Ask Dr. Gott 10/27
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I read your column about the lady who is in constant pain and is getting steadily weaker after having been given a variety of treatments, including prednisone. You could have been describing me a year ago. That's when I decided to take things into my own hands, as it was apparent that only a few months of my life remained, and they would be terrible at best.
    I began by eliminating all my prescription medications, one at a time, and replaced them only if the pain remained. Bingo! I found I was terribly allergic to statin drugs that I had been taking for years, even though my doctor knew of the terrible pain. Now, a year later and onto a new doctor, I am back to volunteering full time and enjoying life at 68 years of age. Although I have some residual weakness when overexerting and have an arm that still gets twinges, life is 100 percent better. I can't tell you how bad the pain got at times. It's as though little people inside my body were literally tearing my muscles apart. My body got so weak that even walking across a room was a major effort. My heart goes out to the lady.
    Please let her know about statin drugs, for I'd almost bet my house that is the problem.
    DEAR READER: I have been impressed by the hundreds of letters I have received blaming statin drugs as a cause of muscle pain and weakness. This side effect is far more common than many doctors realize and should be seen as a warning to consumers. You took an important step by stopping your statin therapy.
    If you need a substitute for lowering your cholesterol levels, try flaxseed-oil capsules, omega-3 fish-oil capsules or over-the-counter nonflushing niacin, 500 milligrams daily.
    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: My husband is 66 years old, 5 feet 9 inches and weighs 260 pounds. He has been having dizzy spells for about four years. His doctor ordered an MRI. When the neurologist read it, he indicated all the arteries that went to my husband's brain were corroded and that he was a good candidate for a stroke. He called it white-matter disease. His blood pressure was up, but the doctor has that under control now. We could not get any more information on that part of the problem.
    Could you please tell me more about this? How long do people live with white matter disease, and how close to a stroke are they?
    DEAR READER: Chronic arterial blockages will eventually cause scarring of brain tissue, leading to white-matter disease, which can be seen in brain scans. Your husband should shed a few pounds, take one aspirin a day in addition to therapy for his hypertension and be rescanned in a few months. I can't predict when he could have a stroke, but that risk could be lessened if your husband is willing to work with his primary care physician about several health concerns. 
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