Q. Whenever I go to the doctor and she takes my blood pressure it is a little high. Then, at the end of the office visit, she takes my pressure again and it’s normal. Do you know what causes this?
What you describe is a common symptom of “white-coat hypertension.” This means that your blood pressure goes up whenever anyone in a white coat (or reasonable medical facsimile) comes near you. I suffer from this myself so I have a visceral understanding of the problem.
Q. Are generic drugs as good as brand-name drugs?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): “ A generic drug is the same as a brand-name drug in dosage, safety, strength, quality, the way it works, the way it is taken and the way it should be used. The FDA requires generic drugs have the same high quality, strength, purity and stability as brand-name drugs.”
More than 70 percent of prescription medications taken today are generics, which are identical, or “bioequivalent,” to a brand-name drug.
Q. My grandson has been told he has a “personality disorder.” What is that?
People with a personality disorder have serious trouble getting along with others. They are usually rigid and unable to adapt to the changes life presents to all of us. They simply don’t function well in society.
People with personality disorders are more likely to commit homicide and suicide, and suffer from social isolation, alcohol and drug addiction, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-destructive behavior such as excessive gambling.
Q. Is Yoga too strenuous for seniors?
If the Yoga sessions accommodate personal physical limitations, there’s no reason a senior can’t start this 4,000-year-old practice. It’s a good idea to find out exactly what you’ll be doing in your Yoga class and discuss it with your doctor first.
Yoga has been shown to help alleviate many of the health problems faced by older adults. The benefits of Yoga are supposed to combat the aging process.
Q. When you have a bypass, what exactly do they do to your heart?
In conventional heart bypass, an incision about one-foot-long is made down the center of the chest to expose the heart. The surgeon takes a section of healthy blood vessel, often from inside the chest wall or from the lower leg, and attaches the ends above and below a blocked artery so that blood flow is diverted around the narrowed portion of a diseased artery.
Q. My 90-year-old mother is extremely independent and doesn’t want me accompanying her to her doctor appointments. It’s frustrating because when she gets home, I can’t get any decent information from her. She doesn’t ask the doctors questions. What can I do about this?
This behavior is familiar to me. People in my parents’ World War II generation are self-reliant, but with a stronger respect for authority than subsequent generations. These folks tend not to challenge their doctors even with simple questions.
Second of two parts
In our last column, we discussed emotional intelligence (EI or EQ). Today’s column is about research that shows seniors have higher emotional intelligence than younger people.
Emotional intelligence is a relatively new concept. It was popularized by Daniel Goleman, a psychologist who was a science journalist for The New York Times. His 1995 book, “Emotional Intelligence,” was a bestseller.
First of two parts
Q. Are we like wine? Do we improve with age?
It’s clear to me that most of us improve in one area. I believe we become better people. My mother used to insist that individuals don’t change. We had many arguments about this.
I think our opinions are highly influenced by perception and personal experience. It’s difficult to prove either side of the argument. However, there have been studies done on “emotional intelligence” that indicate we are like Cabernet, not water.
Q. Is breast cancer the leading cause of cancer death in women?
Breast cancer is second, behind lung cancer, as the leading cause of cancer death in women. The chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in a woman’s life is about 1 in 8.
There are many risk factors for breast cancer.
The risk rises with age. About 77 percent of women with breast cancer are older than 50 when they are diagnosed.
Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close relatives have the disease.
Q. I get low blood pressure after I eat a meal. It makes me a little woozy. What can I do about it?
This is a senior malady called “postprandial hypotension.” When you eat, blood pours into your digestive system. To maintain your blood pressure, your heart pumps more often and your blood vessels constrict. These compensatory mechanisms don’t work for some people.
To help prevent postprandial hypotension, eat small portions several times a day and limit high-carbohydrate foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.