DEAR DR. ROACH: I always try to accompany my husband when he goes to the doctor. I feel that two sets of ears are always better than one. When his vitals are taken (e.g., weight, blood pressure), I have to ask what they were, as they never seem to volunteer this information. I mention this because the last time we were at the doctor’s office, I asked what his weight was, because he had just lost 10 pounds. The nurse said it was 165, and I said “really,” that was odd, as his shorts were very loose on him. We took it again, and she had transposed the numbers. It was 156. This is a wakeup call to all patients: They need to be aware to ask these questions for their health and well-being. — C.W.
ANSWER: I agree with you completely, for several reasons. Doctors and nurses make mistakes, but we also don’t communicate as effectively as we should some of the time. We use words that people don’t understand, talk too fast or too quietly, and don’t spend the time we need to making sure people know what they should do to help themselves get better. I think having a family member there is a great idea. So is taking notes, and so is going over what YOU understood the doctor to say, to make sure you are both on the same page.
DEAR DR. ROACH: I have an eye question. I am 84, and I have mild hemorrhages in my left eye. My doctor said this is due to old age, and to just wait and see if it gets worse. He did say that it could indicate a prelude to a brain stroke-type hemorrhage.
What can I do about this? I am very concerned. Why are my blood vessels so fragile? Does every old person have this problem? — J.I.
ANSWER: I assume you mean a hemorrhage in the white of your eye, called a sub conjunctival hemorrhage. These are very common, can be seen easily in the mirror, and they usually do not indicate increased stroke risk. They are more likely in people taking aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs. They also can come from even minor trauma, as people in their 80s do typically have somewhat more fragile blood vessels.
If you have a retinal hemorrhage, which he would see with an ophthalmoscope in the back of the eye, that indicates a more substantial risk for stroke. Since the blood vessels in the retina are essentially the same as inside the brain, hemorrhage in the retina predicts stroke. In that case, your doctor would recommend very careful control of any risk factors you may have, especially blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.
The booklet on stroke explains this condition that is deservedly feared by all. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 902, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
Dr. Roach regrets that he unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med. cornell.edu. To view and order health pamphlets, visit www.rbmamall.com, or write to Good Health, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803.
©2016 North America Synd.