DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My doctor prescribed statin drugs to control my LDL cholesterol. First I took lovastatin (Mevacor) and then simvastatin (Zocor), but I had muscle pain and weakness with them. I am reluctant to start the pravastatin (Pravachol) that he now has prescribed. Are there alternatives? How about Endur-acin? CoQ10 has been suggested. — D.L.
ANSWER: Statins are the most potent cholesterollowering drugs, including lowering LDL cholesterol — bad cholesterol, the kind that clings to artery walls. They’ve been around for 20 years, and their safety record has been good. Some people develop muscle pain. Those people can try a diff erent statin. You did. However, you might be reacting a bit too fast in rejecting pravastatin (Pravachol). It is the statin that most infrequently is involved with muscle complaints.
I don’t know any herb on the list of herbs you included (in an edited part of the letter) that compare with medicines for cholesterol control. However, there are things you can do to lower cholesterol, including reducing your saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Saturated fats are the fats found in many meats, whole-fat dairy products and many other commercially prepared foods. You have to look on the label. Omega-3 fatty acids lower cholesterol. They’re found in fish. If you cannot stand fish, take the omega-3s in pill form.
Questran, Colestid, Welchol and Zetia are cholesterol lowering drugs that are unrelated to statins.
Niacin can increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and lower triglycerides, fats that also figure into artery clogging. Endur-acin is a slow-release preparation of niacin. Slow-release preparations were introduced to lessen flushing, one of the side effects of niacin.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is an antioxidant made by the body and also is available in pill form. Antioxidants counter the damaging byproducts coming from cell chemistry. I don’t see any references mentioning that it lowers cholesterol.
The cholesterol booklet gives an in-depth treatment of cholesterol. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 201W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am an 80-year-old male. I work out on a Cybex weight machine and also on a treadmill. I was diagnosed as having an umbilical hernia. Please discuss it. Is surgery recommended at my age? Will working out aggravate it? — C.R.
ANSWER: All hernias are protrusions of internal organs or tissues through a defect in the wall that’s supposed to hold them in place. In your case, the defect is the umbilicus — the navel, the bellybutton. With age, the scar that closes the umbilicus (the site where the umbilical cord from the placenta attaches to the fetus) weakens, and a hernia can form.
If the hernia isn’t large, isn’t bothering you and doesn’t put a crimp in your lifestyle, nothing has to be done.
When you work out, does the hernia bulge larger? If it does, you should limit the amount of weight you lift. If it doesn’t, then you can continue as you are, so long as your doctor concurs.
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