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Ask Dr. Gott 5/7
Lifestyle cruising toward disaster
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: My husband is 71 years old. He eats few sweets and fats, very little red meat and doesn't consume salt. He also takes vitamin supplements. He has coronary artery disease that bothers him very little, so he assumes he is OK. He gets minimal exercise and sleeps a lot. He smokes a half pack of low-nicotine cigarettes and drinks 3 ounces of tea mixed with 14 ounces of gin daily. He insists that his smoking and drinking won't hurt him and refuses to quit either.
    I am concerned that he is living on borrowed time. His doctor says his liver and lungs are fine. He is drinking five times the maximum limit of 3 ounces of gin every day. This can't be doing his body any good, yet he just won't stop.
    Please help.
    DEAR READER: Despite your husband's healthful diet, he has an apparently mild-to-moderate case of coronary artery disease. Any result of this condition can be serious (stroke, heart attack and more) and must be met with lifestyle, behavioral and medical changes. This includes stopping smoking and drastically reducing or stopping drinking.
    The fact that your husband has not stopped smoking and drinking and he doesn't see the harm in his habits is absolutely crazy. He is definitely flirting with danger, despite his insistence that he feels fine. I would define your husband as an alcoholic. Fourteen ounces of gin daily is far too much. In one month, he drinks about 3 gallons of gin. I don't think the average American drinks 3 gallons of milk a month, let alone any form of alcohol. Your husband's sleeping pattern may also be a result of his coronary artery disease, but it is most likely the result of his overindulgence in alcohol. He may simply be too impaired to function. Also, just because the physician says your husband's liver is fine doesn't mean that will always be the case. I am disappointed that he isn't insisting your husband discontinue drinking.
    As to your husband's smoking habit, low-nicotine cigarettes are still just as harmful as standard cigarettes. The amount of nicotine is reduced, but the tar, chemicals and carcinogens are not. Cigarettes in any form are a definite health "no-no."
    I agree that your husband is living on borrowed time; however, you can't make him change. This is something he must do himself. You can talk to him when he is sober and state your case, feelings and interpretation of the consequences he will face if things don't change, but you must be prepared to follow through. He probably will not listen, insist you are wrong and continue the behavior until something serious happens (such as a stroke, heart attack car accident, etc.). I urge you to seek out a counselor or therapist who will allow you to express your feelings and concerns.
    Show your husband my response, talk to his doctor and then back off. It must be your husband's decision to change. Nagging may only make the situation worse.
    To give you related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Reports "Coronary Artery Disease" and "Mental and Substance Abuse."
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