October 22, 2014

Hibiscus Tea for Blood Pressure Issues

Once again, blood pressure (BP) concerns have taken center stage. For most of my adult life, the issue was finding a medication that would treat my high BP without causing troublesome side effects. None of the many drugs I tried was completely satisfactory.

Freedom at Last
Six months ago, I thought I had finally won my freedom from those medications. I kept seeing medical authorities suggesting that people age 80+ could stop taking BP meds if they showed no other signs of coronary trouble. My BP specialist said he "wouldn't lose any sleep" if I stopped popping the pills. So I did.

Since then, my numbers have usually stayed within the new guidelines (150/90) for people 65+. But now I'm dealing with neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (NOH), which causes my systolic number to tumble, sometimes below 90. There's also a danger from aggressive treatment of NOH, which can lead to an opposite problem -- supine hypertension. Naturally, I'm likely to overdo it on aggressive treatment.

All of this means I'm again searching for something that might prove helpful in dealing with my BP issues.

I recalled using hibiscus teas in the past for their alleged BP benefits. I've just checked several references about that product, including a link to one of my favorite sites for nutrition information: NutritionFacts.org.

On that site, Dr. Greger provides an update on hibiscus tea:

October 21, 2014

How Old are YOU? A New Way to Measure Age.

“You’re only as old as you feel."

“Sixty is the new forty.”

Those are just two examples we use to indicate that measuring age is a blurry business.

I might say “I’m 85 years old,” which is true. OK, it means I was born in 1929. But what does that fact really say about my health and my prospects for the future? A lot more than actuarial tables might suggest, according to a new study.

I’ve learned that every person with Parkinson’s has his or her own individual disease… and experiences its symptoms and medications uniquely. In an interesting post last month in one of my favorite blogs, “The New Old Age” in The New York Times, writer Judith Graham shows how measuring age – like the Parkinson’s example -- depends very much on the individual. Like never before in our history – as healthcare improves and longevity increases -- measuring age involves a lot more than counting the passing years.

In her article -- "On New Measurements of Aging" -- Graham recaps a Q&A with a professor of social and behavioral sciences. In that conversation, the teacher describes an easy, and – to me – completely novel way to determine when “old age” begins.

Here’s that brief exchange:

October 20, 2014

A Personal Log to Track Blood Pressure and Medications

I've been struggling to manage the timing and dosages of the many pills I take. Last Friday, I described the challenge in this post.

A thoughtful reader offered a helpful suggestion in this email:

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Save the attached file to your iPad and use it to track your medication and blood pressure (BP) records. Just put X in each of the meds columns to mark when you took meds (or # of pills taken if levodopa doses vary), then type in your BP readings. In the next column, enter anything you attempted other than meds -- wearing abdominal binder, drinking cold water, eating salt, etc.

Those columns are the only part you need to send your doctors. I included a final column where you can record your personal comments – digestion, sleep, dizziness, etc. You can delete that column before sending to your docs, unless they indicate otherwise. They probably won’t want it.

Open the blank table and “Save as New” every day to create a new record. Or you can copy/paste a new blank table into last page of a Word document to keep a week’s record in one file. Using an Excel spreadsheet to document a full week -- with days shown side-by-side -- would be even better, but I suspect you’re more adept with Word than Excel.

I think this type of table will give you and your docs a much clear picture of any pattern that emerges.

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Thanks for this great idea!

Here's what that attached document looked like.

October 17, 2014

Managing My Meds: Practically a Full-time Job

The Overview
Every night before I go to bed, I make this arrangement on my bathroom sink:  

What are all those things? We'll start from the lower left corner and continue around the sink:

My Carbidopa/Levodopa

This is my main Parkinson's med. I take two pills eight times a day. That's 16 pills! The photo shows the supplies for only three of those eight cycles.

After I take the 9:30 pill, I'll cross out the 9:30 and write 12:30. I take these pills at three-hour intervals. My body knows the schedule better than my memory. It will wake me up during the night when another three-hour cycle is up.

October 16, 2014

"Combination Therapy" REVERSES Memory Loss

A UCLA study, reported in the October 12 edition of "Alzheimer's & Dementia Weekly," showed that a combination of different therapies actually helped reverse memory loss. Yes, that’s right: REVERSE memory loss.

It was a very small study -- only 10 participants – and it did not include other elements, like control groups, necessary to render its results “scientific evidence.” Still, the results are worth considering.

Of those ten participants, nine displayed both subjective and objective memory improvement beginning within three to six months of the program’s start. “Subjective” improvements are those reported informally by the subject. “Objective” results are based on testing.

Before they became part of the 25 Step Memory Program (called “MEND” for Metabolic Enhancement for NeuroDegeneration), six of the ten had actually stopped working -- or were having trouble at work -- because of memory issues. In time, after participating in the study’s “combination therapy,” all six returned to work, or stayed on the job with improved performance.

All ten were patients with memory loss either from Alzheimer’s (AD), amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), or subjective cognitive impairment (SCI), a condition where patients make their own assessments based on personal experience. That tenth participant – the one whose memory showed no improvement – was diagnosed with late-stage Alzheimer’s.

What’s more, improvements for the other nine people have been generally sustained, with the longest patient follow-up coming two and a half years from initial treatment.