HEALTH MATTERS: Your health questions answeredDo you have a question about your health? Are you confused by the often conflicting medical information offered on the Internet? Would you like an impartial resource where you can get answers about health topics? If so, you’ve come to the right place. The UND Medicine and Health Sciences is pleased to host this new column because health matters. The column, naturally called Health Matters, will appear in the Herald every other Saturday.
By the UND School of Medicine and Health Science
Do you have a question about your health? Are you confused by the often conflicting medical information offered on the Internet?
Would you like an impartial resource where you can get answers about health topics? If so, you’ve come to the right place. The UND Medicine and Health Sciences is pleased to host this new column because health matters. The column, naturally called Health Matters, will appear in the Herald every other Saturday.
We invite you to submit generic questions by e-mail or by mail, but please do not send any specific medical information about yourself or your relatives. We’ll seek answers from the full-time and voluntary faculty of the school, and our colleagues throughout North Dakota. Although we will not be able to provide specific medical advice or answer questions that relate to your particular medical condition, we will try to provide reliable answers to common medical questions. So give us a try, and get those questions in to us.
To get the ball rolling, here are examples of questions Dr. Joshua Wynne, UND Medical School dean, often hears in his practice as a cardiologist.
Q. I try to eat a sensible diet, but my doctor tells me that my cholesterol still is too high. What am I doing wrong?
A. Probably nothing. The major cause of high cholesterol in the blood is overproduction by your liver, not from eating too many cholesterol-containing foods. In most patients, high cholesterol results from their body’s metabolism, and not from poor diet. Now that’s not to say that a poor diet doesn’t contribute to high cholesterol. But in most cases, a low cholesterol diet is only partially effective in controlling high cholesterol. In many cases, medicine is also required, the most common medicines belonging to a class of drugs called statins (like Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor and others).
Q. I had a stent inserted, and my doctor told me that it is very important to stay on a medicine called Plavix. Why?
A. First of all, a stent is a metal device like a Slinky that is inserted inside of your coronary artery to open up a blocked segment. It is expanded by a balloon to help keep the artery wide open, and it is usually quite effective in doing so. But it is a foreign material, and may cause clotting of the blood. In serious cases, a clot may totally block the stent, causing a heart attack. To prevent this, patients are treated with aspirin and another medicine called clopidogrel (or Plavix, a brand name). Plavix and aspirin lessen the tendency for blood cells called platelets to stick to each other and to the sides of the stent, and thus prevent clotting off of the stent. In usual cases after a stent is inserted, aspirin is prescribed for the rest of the patient’s life, and Plavix is prescribed for different lengths of time, depending on such details as the type of stent inserted, the number of stents utilized, and the amount of remaining disease present. Stopping Plavix too early can lead to clotting of the stent, a potentially very serious complication. Thus, it is extremely important for patients on stents to not stop taking their aspirin or Plavix or both without checking with their health care provider.
Dr. Wynne is vice president for health affairs at UND, dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and a professor of medicine. He is a cardiologist by training.
Submit a question to Health Matters! at firstname.lastname@example.org or Health Matters!, 501 North Columbia Road, Stop 9037, Grand Forks, ND, 58202-9037
The content of this column is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice or care. The information provided herein should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this column.