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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Will I ever be healthy enough to come off some of my medication?

    I've just found that I have high blood pressure and am taking medication to bring it down. It has worked so far. I also have high cholesterol and high blood sugar level.

    I am also taking something for the cholesterol and Diabex for the sugar. I take medication already for rheumatoid arthritis, which I've had since I was 12, and am worried the many medications I now take will impact me with their side effects.

    I'm having surgery in a month to put a stent in as my artery is partially blocked. I lost my father recently to heart failure, but he actually died from kidney failure due to all the medications he was on for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, heart failure, blood clots, etc. Could that happen to me? He was 73… I am 42! I had a valve operation at age 7, and a co-arctation of the aorta at age 24. I am a little overweight, but eat healthily, so all this confuses me. I admit I didn't exercise much and I have a desk job. I aim to start walking after my stent surgery.
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    Nicholas Karam

    Exercise Physiologist

    Specialist treatment for injury rehabilitation, management of diabetes, weight management, corporate health View Profile

    In short…Yes, I would expect there is be scope to reduce the medications you are currently taking. However, by the sounds of it you will require to modify your lifestyle moving forward and then maintain this.

    Holistically, your GP should coordinae an appropriate approach to assist you with this. For example: to improve your acitivity levels and for rehab post surgery (given your medical history) you best consult an exercise physiologist.

    Also, getting a professional look at your diet would be useful.

    Once you have made some longstadning changes an assessment on your medication intake can be evaluated by your GP.

    Regards,

    www.elitexercise.com.au

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    Elizabeth Newsham-West is committed to optimising the health and well-being of people across all ages within the Mount Tamborine community.  She works as a domicillary … View Profile

    There is very good research that shows changes to your lifestyle ( diet and exercise) can help reduce your medication use. You may still require medication but you may not need to take as much. You are 42 and very young to have T2 diabetes and heart disease ( unless you have a very strong family history ) . However this is not uncommon today. If you truly want to change your long term healthy you can but it will require you to make changes to your diet, exercise and lifestyle and you will be rewarded with better blood glucose levels and blood lipid levels. Research shows even small changes in weight with the right dietary advice can make significant changes to your blood levels. It is not just about choosing healthy food . The Dietitian can also help you choose foods that reduce your LDL cholesterol and help you know the right amount of foods to eat , the best way to eat through the day and show you how food affects your blood glucose levels. Since you are having a stent put in I think this is a good time to think about your own personal health and make a difference. Seek the help from a Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist if you have concerns about your RA. They can help you.

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    Peter is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a private practice on the Gold Coast. He has an interest in helping people make positive lifestyle changes … View Profile

    The DASH diet is an effective strategy to lower blood pressure, it is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Increasing your ‘good’ fats would be beneficial in all of your conditions.  Food items such as: Walnuts, Chia seeds, fish (or fish oil), extra virgin olive oil, linseeds, leafy greens and legumes are some suitable options.

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    Dr Bennett Franjic

    Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

    Dr Bennett Franjic is a General Cardiologist with expertise in Echocardiography. He has special interest in Cardiomyopathy, Valvular Disease, Pulmonary Hypertension and Stress Echocardiography. Dr … View Profile

    It sounds like you have had several health problems over the years.
    I agree that if you have regular exercise and reduce your BMI (Body Mass Index - Weight/Height2), you may well be able to reduce your medication for Diabetes and Blood Pessure. Low salt diet and DASH or Medeteranian diet is also important. As you have Cholesterol Narrowing in your Coronary Arteries, I recommend you continue on high-dose anti-cholesterol medication.
    Because you had Coarctation, it will be important to make sure your blood pressure is not too high when you exercise, which can be checked with EST (Exercise Stress Testing). The Cardiologist can arrange this for you.
    In general, these medications help to maintain the kidney function by controlling the Blod Pressure. They only cause problems if you become dehydrated, such as with Gastro-enteritis etc.

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    Mel Haynes

    Nutritionist

    Chef, Scientist and Nutritionist. I specialise culinary nutrition and disease prevention with plant based diets. www.culinetica.com.au View Profile

    Im sure such a big shock is a great platform to turn your life around and make the changes you need to get healthy again - Which is achievable!

    There is an astounding amount of evidence that heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure can be reversed by a great diet.  I reccoment a few websites worth a read from reliable, qualified practiitioners.

    www.nutritionfacts.org
    www.diseaseproof.com
    http://www.pcrm.org

    These websites all explain how by significantly reducing the meat, eggs and dairy you eat and swapping over to vegetables, legumes and other plant foods you can reverse a lifetime of damaged caused by poor diet and (probably) familial risk factors.

    While it is all a bit scary at first, set some easy goals to start your journey.  No dietary change has to be all or nothing.

    Some things you add into your diet to help you on your way include:

    drinking iced hibiscus tea to help lower blood pressure (1)
    sprinkle some dried amla powder (cheap indian food ) on your meals - this helps cholesterol AND blood sugar (2)
    start some gentle exercise after meals - even 10-15 minutes of walking helps. 

    Best of luck with your new diet and I wish you many happy years!

    (1) http://www.nature.com/jhh/journal/v23/n1/abs/jhh2008100a.html
    (2) http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09637486.2011.560565

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