Q: I read in your newsletter that a study confirms that blood pressure readings at home are more reliable than those in the doctor's office. I've been through this and can tell you why.
Once diagnosed with hypertension, every trip to the doctor's office is like being called in to the boss to be told whether you will be promoted or terminated.
I have more dread of a blood pressure reading than going to my retinal specialist.
My BP can be 150/85 at the doctor's office; it is 112/60 at home.
A: The research was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (June 21, 2011). In the course of 18 months, more than 400 veterans had their blood pressure monitored at home, in a research setting and in the clinic. Clinic readings were highest. Home blood pressure readings are a more accurate reflection of fluctuating blood pressure and should be shared with the doctor.
Q: You might wish to tell readers to beware taking both Plavix and Nexium. After installing a stent near my heart, my doctor said no changes were needed in my list of medications, even though I would be mixing Nexium with Plavix for the next year.
I checked this advice on our computer and saw another specialist. He immediately stopped the Nexium and changed my GERD medication to Protonix (pantoprazole).
A: There is uncertainty about the interaction between acid-suppressing drugs like esomeprazole (Nexium) and the anti-clotting drug clopidogrel (Plavix) that you need to keep your stent open. Some studies suggest that the acid-suppressor will interfere with the effectiveness of Plavix or even aspirin. Protonix appears to be the best choice if a GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) medicine is needed (Thrombosis and Haemostasis, June 2011).
Q: My father and his mother both had psoriasis on their shins and elbows, so when I developed this problem at age 50, I thought I was just stuck with it.
I started filling gel caps with cooking-grade turmeric and taking several each day for joint pain. My joints are healthier, and the psoriasis completely disappeared! We buy turmeric by the pound at East Indian cooking stores.
A: Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is the yellow spice that gives curry powder its distinctive color. Thai researchers investigated the activity of this herb in a skin-cell line and found that it has the potential to work against psoriasis (Molecules, May 10, 2011).
One component, curcumin, appears to be responsible. While physicians await the results of clinical trials (Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, June 2008), we are pleased to hear of your success.
A word of caution for others who plan to try this: Turmeric may interact with warfarin (Coumadin) to increase the risk of bleeding. Some people also experience allergic reactions.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Send questions to them via peoplespharmacy.com.
A visit to the doctor can be a high-pressure event
Plavix and Nexium don't mix for reader with stent; and turmeric fights psoriasis for chronic sufferer
(Pascal Broze photo)