The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 979: Health News Update on Defending the Brain

Strokes and many common drugs put the brain under stress; how can we protect it?
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Health News Update on Defending the Brain

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Taking medications that affect brain chemicals can alter our risk of developing dementia. Find out which prescription and over-the-counter drugs are associated with a greater risk of an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. There is a list of common anticholinergic drugs here.

Stroke Treatment

A Dutch study last month showed that using a special device to reach into an artery in the brain and pull out a clot causing a stroke could significantly improve recovery of function. Neurologist Larry Goldstein, MD, puts the research into perspective.

Pros & Cons

How can patients weigh the risks and the benefits of common treatments, from flu shots to cholesterol-lowering dugs? What has your experience been?

We also discuss the cost and effectiveness of some highly-promoted prescription nail fungus medicines and compare them to home remedies.

Call in your questions and comments at 888-472-3366 or email between 7 and 8 am EDT.

The Week’s Guests:

Larry Goldstein, MD, FAAN, FANA, FAHA, is Professor of Neurology and Chief of the Division of Stroke and Vascular Neurology in the Department of Neurology at Duke University Medical Center. He is also Director of the Duke Stroke Center and Vice-Chair for Quality and Credentials. The photo is of Dr. Goldstein.

Shelly Gray, PharmD, MS, is Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Pharmacy in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Washington. She is also director of the Geriatric Pharmacy Program. Her article on anticholinergic drugs and dementia was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Listen to the Podcast

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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In the distant past, my husband I both suffered rather long-term (over at least one year) memory problems following surgeries when we were administered “General Anesthesia” drugs to cause us to be unconscious during surgery. We were not informed of the drugs involved, and our attempts at identification were ignored. Then, ten years ago I received Propofol during a removal of a Stage III melanoma, and was therefore very relieved that I had no side-effects or memory-loss side effects during or following the two-hour surgery. Recently, prior to to a short surgery, I requested Propofol rather than General Anesthesia. The surgeon agreed to use Propofol but instead substituted “General Anesthesia” against my wishes. I do not know exactly what drugs were involved, but for the last month I have been suffering terrifying memory lapses and embarrassing senior moments. Does anyone know if these anesthesia drugs are anti-cholinergic, or why they cause such problems? I do not know if I’ll ever regain my neural connections from this latest assault on my brain.

I have been on statins (Lipitor) for at least 20 years. I have also been on Zantac to control acid reflux for over 25 years because taking Aciphex (a PPI) for 11 years to control the acid reflux resulted in stage 3 kidney failure. Sadly, I have been subjected to “harmful” drugs by doctors that I trusted to keep me healthy. I do suffer from a serious nerve damage in my leg and have to take Lyrica. All these medications do cause dry mouth so it’s a struggle to keep my teeth healthy. Dry mouth is so destructive in so many ways. Cavities, short- term memory issues, etc., etc. I have always had a memory like an elephant but dealing with this memory loss is terribly frustrating.

The Lipitor, Zantac, Lyrica are all a must. If there were some other meds that would do the job, I would gladly switch if they wouldn’t cause more harm. It is so pitiful that doctors prescribe medicine without knowing, or caring to know, the side affects and long term damage caused by their use. I feel trapped by these meds.

Please be aware of Benzodiazepines! That are deadly and cause many uncomfortable side effects. I was on Ativan and I’m experiencing many unpleasant side effects. I’m 50 years old and my memory is gone. I didn’t sleep for three weeks after being prescribed 2 mg of Ativan for sleep. I’m 35 days off now and I’m experiencing heart palpitations, extreme anxiety, sleeplessness, gut issues and memory loss. This medicine is pure evil and the Pharmaceutical companies are deceiving people.

I was “persuaded” to take pravastatin (but not convinced about taking it) by a cardiologist who said
it was the first statin and had few side effects.

After reading the above narratives, I am dropping it tonght!… And, I’ve never even had any indication
of any kind of cardiac problem other than chronic high cholesterol (first discovered it was high at age
46; I’ll be a still-symptom-free 86 in August !). Bye-bye statin forever.

As always, thank you People’s Pharmacy for spreading the news of real people’s experiences.

My dr put me on Zetia for high cholesterol. It has no statins.

May we please see a transcript of this video? I can’t wait until this podcast phase is over!

I wish we could read all of your information on this site rather than having to adjust to “podcasts” and sending away and paying for some articles.
I’ve done this once, and it was an interesting one, but it seems that we shouldn’t have to pay for new, important medical information.

Sending information via e-mail is so very easy—why request that someone have to pay to just read, or even printout on their on paper, medical information you are dispensing.

I very much agree Marilyn. However, I am very interested in so many of these findings
and articles that I believe I will have to do some ‘Detective Work’ on my own.
Like using the expert’s name and which ‘Journal’ it appeared in and go from there.
With our computer’s we should be able to help ourselves quite a bit, and, that always
feels so good!

Couldn’t find list of OTC drugs associated with anti-cholonergics. Can you please send a pointer to it?

Thanks for all the past help you have provided.

Michael D.

I found a search box on people’s pharmacy and typed in anticholinergic and found more articles in example below I pasted…..still have not found list of brand names of drugs, I thought I would share what I could.

I have taken letrozole for breast cancer for 5yrs at night Makes me slightly sleepy and depressed but cancer not returned. Was this drug in study for dementia?

It said, Find out which prescriptions are associated with Alzheimer’s. But I couldn’t find them.

I agree with Marilyn W. I cannot use the books or podcasts over here.E.mail is the remedy!

Writing to inform you that my experience with low dose (10mg) daily starting in 1998, left me terribly ill, hospitalized in 2002, for 28 days at the Univ of WI, Madison, whereas I was akin to a patient with Alzheimers, Did not know my wife, nor 2 year old son, nor siblings nor parents. I wet and soiled myself, could not walk, nor speak coherently, MRI showed Dozens of Lesions on my brain, Biopsy showed these lesions were holes, (Apoptosis, or Programmed Cell Death, from the Neurons being starved of the Apoptosis Controller, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Brain Biopsy with Electron Microscopy showed Mitochondrial Mutations, similar to Mitochondrial Encephalomyopathy with Lactic Acidosis and Stroke Like Episodes (MELAS), Muscle Biopsy corroborated these findings, and I was being set to transfer to a nursing home, to live out my last days.( I was 34) Until I was evealuted by a visiting professor from Harvard, who evaluated me, and started me on a Mitochondrial Cocktail (essentially 12+ Vitamins, Amino Acids and CoQ10, when within 30 hours after starting this, I began to improve in that I could answer questions, ask for help going to the bathroom and shortly after was sent home with aggressive rehab therapies. Now its been 12 years, I am still unable to work, due to severe cognition problems, evidenced by Neuropsych evaluation. I continue to fight constant fatigue, constant muscle pain, Peripheral neuropathy, among other problems. I am an Admin on a Facebook group for Statin Side Effect Victims, and since I took the role of Admin, in December, the # of people that belong has increased from 210, to now almost 450. My Doctor in Madison, Discharged me with a Diagnosis of Viral Encephalitis, despite biopsy findings, and in spite of Dr Beatrice Golomb calling him to discuss the Statin Effects Study Results, of which I participated, and was determined that my use of lipitor was a causal contributor to the holes in my brain, as well as the mitochondrial DNA mutations.
Thank you,

Dear Christopher,

I’m in Madison at present. In 2001 my doc put me on 20 mg of Lipitor. I’m an active person and have been most of my years, so I know what it is to be sore from injury or just working the body too hard or too long. What the Lipitor did to me was nothing like those. It was like waking up in the morning feeling like I had slept in the street and been run over by cars and trucks all night. Thank the Tao and Praise “BOB” that it only took me about a few weeks to connect it to the drug, and then to confirm it. I know a minister about an hour out of Madtown. He was really damaged by them, physically and mentally. After some years off the statins he has made a partial physical recovery, but he’s a changed person. I first learned that my problems with statins were NOT rare from Joe and Terry’s show, which I have gotten as many people as I can to listen to. I hope they will do a new show focusing on statins because of research controversy.

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