Don't worry about getting 'chalky buildup' in arteries

People's Pharmacy

March 16, 2003|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,Special to the Sun; King Features Syndicate

I have high mineral content in my well water. My kitchen sink gets chalky buildup. I was told that without proper filtering, my arteries would suffer this same buildup. Is this true?

"Hard" water containing minerals does lead to chalky deposits in showers, teakettles and pipes. But contrary to what you have been told, your arteries might actually benefit. Many studies have shown that hard water is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, possibly because of the minerals it contains.

My cousin takes Norvasc and Lopressor for high blood pressure, Celebrex for arthritis, Glucotrol, Glucophage and Actos for diabetes, along with Lopid, gemfibrozil, Ascriptin and Coumadin. The Coumadin is for some kind of heart problem, but he is not clear about what the others are for.

I had no idea he was taking so many drugs, and I wonder if they are all compatible. He says it is hard to get enough time with his doctors to ask about that.

Lopid and gemfibrozil are two names for the same cholesterol-lowering drug. If he is taking both, he could be getting an overdose.

The combination of either aspirin (Ascriptin) or gemfibrozil with Coumadin (warfarin) might be just as worrisome. Unless your cousin has close medical supervision and monitoring, these drugs could interact to cause dangerous bleeding.

Your cousin should not stop any of these medications on his own, but he should ask his pharmacist to review all of them. He should also ask his heart doctor about the Lopid, gemfibrozil, Ascriptin and Coumadin.

I used to suffer with bad dandruff until someone told me that using vinegar on my scalp could help. Now I rub vinegar on my head for a few minutes before I shampoo. I have not been troubled since.

You are not the first to share the vinegar approach to dandruff management. There might even be a scientific explanation. Dandruff is caused in part by yeast that lives on the skin. Vinegar disrupts the acid-base balance of the skin and makes it inhospitable for these organisms. That might explain why it helps against athlete's foot, dandruff and even nail fungus. Be sure to protect your eyes when you use vinegar.

I have taken Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, each for an extended time (not together). Although I was taking the recommended dosage, I did not benefit from any of them. Is there anything else on the market that will help depression? My doctor seems more concerned with my cholesterol than with my depression.

There are many antidepressants on the market, but you might want to discuss fish oil with your physician.

A recent study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry demonstrated benefit from 1 gram of fish oil daily in patients who had not responded to antidepressants. As a bonus, fish oil might actually help lower triglycerides and cholesterol.

Many doctors today double the dose of the pills they prescribe so that patients can split them in half. This allows us some relief from the atrocious prices we are charged.

How does this affect the medicine? If my car holds 20 gallons of gas and I put only 10 gallons in it, I can only go half as far. If I split a 20 milligram pill, does it only work half as long?

Splitting pills should not affect the length of time they last in the body. Whether a doctor prescribes a 5 milligram Valium or a 10 milligram pill that gets split in half, the outcome should be the same.

This does not hold true, however, for medications that are long-acting or extended-release. The formulation of those pills makes them inappropriate for splitting. Be sure to check with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure pill splitting is a safe way to save money.

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