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Ask Dr. Gott 10/28
Enough is enough with medical testing
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DEAR DR. GOTT: My mother is 82 years young and has no medical problems that need medication. She takes very good care of herself, better than a lot of her children do. She walks and is very careful that the types of food she prepares are healthful: lots of vegetables and fresh fruit.
    Her HDL is 64, LDL is 132, triglycerides are 76 and total cholesterol is 200. The doctor is doing a cholesterol test approximately every six months; she had a test done in April and now he wants to do another in May. I questioned this since she's had a stress test and done the heart monitor, and everything checks out fine. I'm concerned that this frequent testing, for no other reason other than a 10-point change in her cholesterol level, is a bit excessive.
    My sister or I always go with her to the doctor visits. She's been with this doctor for over three years now. Whatever the doctor tells her to do she does without questioning because he is into preventive medicine. What is he going to prevent in a very healthy 82-year-old woman who has always been very health conscious?
    I'm my mother's eldest daughter, and I live four mobile homes away, so I pretty much am involved in her affairs.
    DEAR READER: I agree with everything you say. I believe the problem here is not alternative medicine but unnecessary over-testing. Your mother is going to fare much better if she avoids seeing a doctor who is excessive in his approach to elderly patients. For example, a 10-point difference in cholesterol tests is so trivial that it can be ignored. I suggest that your mother continue to see her doctor. Yearly. At 82, she is entitled to "time off" unless she develops symptoms of illness, in which case more frequent medical attention would be appropriate.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: I have read an article about prescription drugs that manufacturers instruct to "discard" after a certain date. A retired pharmacist commented that lots of drugs remain safe and effective for years beyond their stated expiration dates and serve only to enrich their manufacturers. If true, I have discarded hundreds of dollars worth of drugs that had a "discard by" date. I am enclosing the article. What are your comments on this?
    DEAR READER: The article you sent me appeared in the April 2006 AARP bulletin, and it is true, shocking and should be required reading for doctors any patient taking medication. Without a doubt, many prescription drugs are given expiration dates that are wrong and unnecessary. This scam has resulted in millions of patients prematurely discarding expensive medications at tremendous advantage to dollar-hungry drug companies.
    Thank you for sharing this eye-opening column, which concludes by advising patients to check with their doctors or pharmacists for advice on drugs' shelf lives.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Consumer Tips On Medicine." 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.

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