By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ask Dr. Gott 2/3
What causes frequent bruising?
Placeholder Image
DEAR DR. GOTT: I am a 76-year-old man in good health and physical condition. I don't take any medication or vitamins. My only problem is that even the slightest pressure leaves large bruises on my lower arms.
    This all started after total knee replacement on both legs. I was taking Coumadin for about four weeks after the operation. Ever since that, I am full of bruises all over my arms. I never had this problem before taking Coumadin. This was 11 years ago, and it is still happening to me. It is not a pretty sight, and it bothers me a lot.
    I asked several doctors what could cause this problem. One said it is old age, and the others either did not know or did not even give me an answer. If it is from old age, when it started I was 11 years younger. It is possible that Coumadin changed something in my body chemistry? My other question is, why does it happen only on my arms?
    DEAR READER: When reading your letter, I was hoping that you were still taking Coumadin. Then I got to the "11 years ago," so I don't have an easy answer.
    I don't subscribe to the "old age" excuse. Nor do I believe that the Coumadin is the active participant in your bruising. Nor do I recommend doing nothing. Thin skin? Possibly.
    I urge you to have a thorough blood analysis of your clotting factors. It is conceivable that Coumadin, an aggressive anticoagulant, may have triggered a bizarre reaction in your immune system that should be identified and treated. Ask your doctor to refer you to a hematologist for further testing, and let me know how this turns out.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: On Aug. 23, 2004, I began taking Lipitor to lower my cholesterol, which has been 311 for years. On Dec. 1, 2004, I had a fasting blood test, and it was lowered to 220. Ever since taking Lipitor, I have had aching muscles. After the blood test, I stopped the Lipitor for four days while waiting for the results, and all the pain went away. After calling my doctor about wanting to quit the pill, I was told that statins loosen plaque, and I will have to take it for the rest of my life or take a 50/50 chance of a piece of plaque coming loose and causing a stroke or heart attack. Could this be true? Am I doomed to have muscle pain the rest of my life?
    DEAR READER: You appear to have a complication of statin therapy that your doctor has ignored: rhabdomyolysis. This muscle damage can release excess protein in the body that may plug up the kidneys and lead to renal failure and death.
You should discontinue taking Lipitor forever, change doctors and have blood tests of your kidney function.
    Once you have recovered from the muscle damage, I suggest that you lower your cholesterol by taking niacin, a vitamin. Ask your new doctor about this.
    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.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter