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Old 08-24-2011, 12:31 PM   #1
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Personal Health & Medications

I was in for doctor prescribed blood work Monday and got the results yesterday. Doctor's office ran a copy for me and the doctor always circles items of concern and will call me if anything needs immediate attention. Having had coronary artery bypass surgery in 2004 and an abdominal aortic aneurysum in 2007, I kind of pay attention to required tests. I have blood work twice a year and a CT scan annually for the AAA to check for leakage and continued proper placement of the stent.

I'm happy to report that lab results were good. Items of importance to me are:
Total cholesterol=168 compared to a range of 100-199
Triglycerides =147 compared to a range of 0-149 (a little high for me)
HDL cholesterol =42 should be greater than 39
LDL cholesterol =97 compared to a range of 0-99
Glucose =106 compared to a range of 65-99 (mine is high)

Doctor circled the glucose but didn't make any written comment on this.

Do most people have regular blood work and if so what methods do you use to control those risk factors. For me, I've never controlled my cholesterol by diet and exercize. I've always used prescriiption drugs and seems to work for me. For example, for cholesterol, I take simvastatin. I've only been on this for about two years. Prior to that I was taking Vytorin. The numbers were good but the FDA determined there were problems with Vytorin and my doctor changed the medication.

Having read something recently concernng gout, I requested the doctor ask for a uric acid test also. That result was not good. The range is 3.7-8.6 and I came in at 3.6. The note said "therapeutic target for gout patients is less than 6.0" and that is what I suspected. Doctor's note said "we'll talk about this".

I guess the older you become, the more you pay attention to stuff like this. My point is that if I hadn't had the heart attack in 2004, would I be paying much attention? Probably not. However, had I paid more attention in earlier years maybe I wouldn't have had the attack. Do most of you early retirees in your late 40's, 50's and 60's check on this or are you waiting for something to force you to attention?

The forum is named "Health and Early Retirement" and I think more discussion is needed on health.
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Old 08-24-2011, 02:41 PM   #2
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Having read something recently concernng gout, I requested the doctor ask for a uric acid test also. That result was not good. The range is 3.7-8.6 and I came in at 3.6. The note said "therapeutic target for gout patients is less than 6.0" and that is what I suspected. Doctor's note said "we'll talk about this".
That seems pretty unalarming: "Hypouricemia usually is benign and sometimes is a sign of a medical condition," according to
Hypouricemia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I've been keeping close track of my blood diagnostics for the last 6 years, but only through the circumstance of having to check for a recurrence of cancer (no recurrence). Otherwise, it wouldn't have occurred to me to do it. My test results are all good, except for slightly high total cholesterol and PSA level (PSA is diagnostic for prostate cancer).
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Old 08-24-2011, 02:54 PM   #3
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That seems pretty unalarming: "Hypouricemia usually is benign and sometimes is a sign of a medical condition," according to
Hypouricemia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I've been keeping close track of my blood diagnostics for the last 6 years, but only through the circumstance of having to check for a recurrence of cancer (no recurrence). Otherwise, it wouldn't have occurred to me to do it. My test results are all good, except for slightly high total cholesterol and PSA level (PSA is diagnostic for prostate cancer).
Thanks for the tip. I'm printing out your highlight Hypouricemia, and am scheduling another visit to my doc.
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Old 08-24-2011, 04:30 PM   #4
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I largely haven't been to a doctor except for a sore throats during my teenage years. About 5 years ago, I started to go to a doctor to establish a relationship and do annual check ups and some bloodwork for baseline. I'm 47, probably will be going every 18 months since I have HD plan now. After I turn 50 might get a little more serious about the poking and probing tests they will want to do to me. Knowing me, after my 50 year old check up, I'll probably delay taking those things another couple of years. Fortunately all my numbers are fine, so I will probably use this to my disadvantage by ignoring some things for a while.
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Old 08-24-2011, 05:55 PM   #5
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I guess you might say 50 is the age at which certain test should be started or at least considered. I'm thinking colonoscopy, PSA and digital test for prostate, abdominal aortic aneurysum and others that may be recommended by a physician based on your current health and family history. We're talking men here. Women have their own special tests to be performed. Rich In Tampa might chime in here with some recommendations. Is he still in the country? Might be on the big boat in Alaska. To me, not paying attention to your body would be like buying a bunch of stocks and them storing the certificates in a vault and never looking at them or checking on them to see how they are performing.
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Old 08-24-2011, 06:21 PM   #6
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Our town has health fairs a couple of times a year, and other organizations have them once in awhile for free. DH and I have been having the routine blood tests for many years now, because we want to head off problems at the pass. We have had some not-so-great test results in our working years and consequently made major changes in our diet and exercise regime. It was much easier to do this after ER, because the exercise in particular takes a lot of time, but our blood tests are usually great now. No one lives forever, but we only get one body and I think it's worth the time and effort to be healthy and enjoy life. Also it's handy to have those test results in hand when you go into the doctor's office for checkups. Saves a lot of time.
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Old 08-24-2011, 07:08 PM   #7
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Just a heads up regarding gout. Wild cherry extract can be used to reduce uric acid & symptoms of gout. Also, given your stated reliance on over the counter drugs, there are blood pressure medications that can cause gout symptoms - the MIL had signs of edema and her Dr. was trying different blood pressure medications, gout appeared, and my gal found that the medication prescribed had gout as one of the possible side effects. She got the drug changed and gout went away. Just saying - gotta take charge of your own health.
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Old 08-24-2011, 08:54 PM   #8
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Just a heads up regarding gout. Wild cherry extract can be used to reduce uric acid & symptoms of gout. Also, given your stated reliance on over the counter drugs, there are blood pressure medications that can cause gout symptoms - the MIL had signs of edema and her Dr. was trying different blood pressure medications, gout appeared, and my gal found that the medication prescribed had gout as one of the possible side effects. She got the drug changed and gout went away. Just saying - gotta take charge of your own health.
Thanks for the tip but I have normal to low blood pressure. You're right about taking control of your own health. Found that out the hard way. As much as I trust my doctor, I question him about medications if I read something interesting. I subscribe to the Cleveland Clinic Newsletter and one from the Mayo Clinic. My doctor is good but he can't know everything. I agree, you have to be in control instead of relying on your doctor to do everything.
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Old 08-24-2011, 10:49 PM   #9
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Do most of you early retirees in your late 40's, 50's and 60's check on this or are you waiting for something to force you to attention?
My father's inattention caught my attention.

He lived alone for nearly 25 years, and at one point he didn't visit the doctor for nearly a decade. When he did it was for some annoying minor problem (Dry skin? I don't remember) and the doctor talked him into routine blood & urine tests. One of the revelations of the tests was rising blood pressure (much higher than 10 years ago) and another was a high PSA.

Turns out he had a stage IV prostate tumor, but everything's gone OK since the prostatectomy.

The military got spouse & me into a routine of five-year physical exams, including the usual "guy tests" starting at age 40. I've more or less kept up with that, but I'm more interested in exercise & diet than I am in diagnostic exams.
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Old 08-25-2011, 04:25 AM   #10
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I am not Rich in Tampa but I am a clinician. Men's screenings, recommendations and guidelines can be found at the CDC website CDC - Men's Health - Home. Also in the past I have relied on the national guideline clearinghouse National Guideline Clearinghouse | Home. Do not forget Epocrates is online too, which I use sometimes - and it's free.

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Rich In Tampa might chime in here with some recommendations.
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Old 08-25-2011, 12:02 PM   #11
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I am not Rich in Tampa but I am a clinician. Men's screenings, recommendations and guidelines can be found at the CDC website CDC - Men's Health - Home. Also in the past I have relied on the national guideline clearinghouse National Guideline Clearinghouse | Home. Do not forget Epocrates is online too, which I use sometimes - and it's free.
Sorry obgyn65, didn't mean to exclude you. Thanks for those websites. I'll put them on my "favorites" list. Any other doctor's or PA's out there, please chime in.
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Old 08-25-2011, 01:16 PM   #12
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Do most of you early retirees in your late 40's, 50's and 60's check on this or are you waiting for something to force you to attention?
I had my last physical in 2004 after I had an appendectomy. I guess I'm one of those that gets checked only when necessary. But I'm thinking of getting a checkup around Thanksgiving before I gain my winter weight.
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Old 08-25-2011, 06:33 PM   #13
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I've always used prescriiption drugs and seems to work for me. For example, for cholesterol, I take simvastatin.
I am also on simvastatin. There was a warning that came up recently when using this drug in high dosage (80mg is high). I went to my doctor and dropped the dosage to 40 mg. If you are using 80 mg, check with your doctor.
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:20 PM   #14
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I am also on simvastatin. There was a warning that came up recently when using this drug in high dosage (80mg is high). I went to my doctor and dropped the dosage to 40 mg. If you are using 80 mg, check with your doctor.
Thanks for that tip. I remember being on Vytorin for years and my numbers were good. Then came the scare about Vytorin and my doc switched me to simvastatin 40 mg. After about a year the medication was not doing what he expected it to do and upped my dosage to 80mg. The numbers have been great since. I'll have to talk to him about this. Thanks again.
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Old 08-25-2011, 08:26 PM   #15
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I'll be 69 next month. I have annual checkups/blood tests, and exercise daily, as does my wife who'll be 59 in October; we're both happy that neither of us take any medicines whatsoever....in fact we'll take just about any (reasonable) steps to avoid medication.
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Old 08-26-2011, 02:26 AM   #16
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After I turned 60, I started paying more attention to my routine bloodwork, that I have had done ever since I was put on cholesterol meds in my late 50's. My doctor is overworked and often doesn't notice or remember things so in part I am studying the lab test results to doublecheck. I found that his staff will gladly provide me with a xerox of the lab report to take home with me.
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Old 08-26-2011, 08:45 AM   #17
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After I turned 60, I started paying more attention to my routine bloodwork, that I have had done ever since I was put on cholesterol meds in my late 50's. My doctor is overworked and often doesn't notice or remember things so in part I am studying the lab test results to doublecheck. I found that his staff will gladly provide me with a xerox of the lab report to take home with me.
You have to look after yourself don't you. I'm thinking about what KingB said about the 80mg simvastatin. If I put myself in the doctor's shoes, does he find out about this scare of dosages over 40mg? What does he do about it? Instruct the staff to go through all the files and find out who is on 80mg and tell them to stop? Go on 40mg? I wonder how this is handled. Back in 04 or 05, he never warned me about Vioxx. I found out about it second hand. Is he at fault for leaving me on it so long? Got to be vigilant about your own health care.
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Old 08-26-2011, 09:15 AM   #18
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In my former life as a scientist, I was often impressed with the lack of scientific experience and training that many MDs had. For example, there would be some talk by an MD, and he would have made basic errors in experiment design or interpretation. Many had a misplaced confidence in their understanding of science.

When you think about it, it's not surprising, since an MD doesn't necessarily take any more courses in those subjects than does say, an engineer.

My point is that your doctor may not be good at interpreting the scientific studies that are relevant to your health. Bummer, huh?
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:18 AM   #19
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You have to look after yourself don't you. I'm thinking about what KingB said about the 80mg simvastatin. If I put myself in the doctor's shoes, does he find out about this scare of dosages over 40mg? What does he do about it? Instruct the staff to go through all the files and find out who is on 80mg and tell them to stop? Go on 40mg? I wonder how this is handled. Back in 04 or 05, he never warned me about Vioxx. I found out about it second hand. Is he at fault for leaving me on it so long? Got to be vigilant about your own health care.
We get our prescription drugs from Caremark/CVS. They were the ones that sent me the warning notice through postal mail. They must have a database of their customers and their drugs. If not for that, I would probably not know about it.
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Old 08-26-2011, 11:39 AM   #20
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I've gotten pretty regular blood work done since I was in my 20's because my insurer sponsored health fairs. On the advice of my doctor and using common sense, I don't take one test as gospel. If something is a little out of whack, I don't worry. If it is high, low, whatever again, then maybe it warrants looking at. That has never happened. For instance, my cholesterol was 205 once, but I was building a house and checking on it 3 or 4 nights a week. It was an hour drive and so I usually got fast food for dinner. Hence the high result. Before it was in the low 100's and since it has been in the low to high 100's.

Things change and one or two results could be messed up for any number of reasons. If you have a history, genetic disposition, etc., then maybe you should be concerned. If not, and the results aren't crazy, then you're probably fine, IMHO.
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