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Dr. Zorba Paster: Don’t stop taking blood pressure medications

Doctor Zorba: I’m upset. I’ve been on two blood pressure medications for years and years. The other day my doctor wanted to put me on three pills. I balked. I don’t want to swallow three pills a day, and I don’t want three co-pays a month. It’s just too much.

I know when my blood pressure is high. Sometimes I don’t take my pills and I feel just the same. Maybe I should just toss them and control my pressure the natural way.

Angry in Rockford, Ill.

Dear Angry: Don’t toss your pills – don’t, don’t, don’t. You may think you can feel when your blood pressure is high, but you really can’t unless it’s “off the charts.”

Treating high blood pressure has been one of the miracles of modern medicine. Case in point: President Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR died in 1945, at age 63 – not a ripe, old age at all by our standards.

He had congestive heart failure and severe high blood pressure, 200/120 by some counts, without the benefit of modern technology. All his doctors could do was tell him to “take to bed” and take a vacation. He ultimately had a stroke that easily could have been prevented by a drug that, today, is a simple $4 co-pay generic, available-to-every-American medication.

The world might have been a different place if these medications had been available then and FDR had been around to broker us through the end of World War II.

Now, you might not be the president of the United States, but I bet you’re mighty important to your family. That means keeping your brain free of a stroke.

We’ve dropped the stroke rate, by some estimates 70 percent, since we’ve started aggressively treating high blood pressure. And that often means more than one pill.

If you want to save on a co-pay, ask your doctor if you can take a combination pill – one that has two medications in it, rather than just one.

Now, let’s go back to what you can do without pills. If you really work on it, you might not need that third pill.

1. Lose weight: A 10-pound weight loss can do wonders.

2. Exercise: Try walking 10 minutes two or three times a day.

3. Make good diet choices: Use less salt and less alcohol.

4. Try calming activities: Try yoga or mindfulness meditation. There are several studies that show calming meditation activities can help control blood pressure in a natural way.


Hello Doc: I keep hearing about how treating low testosterone (Low-T) gives a man more energy. My 62-year-old husband’s doctor put him on an Androderm patch about a year ago to raise his testosterone level. We pay for it out of pocket – it’s expensive.

When he first got the prescription, he was ready to go – energy up, libido up, more sex than we’ve had for a long time. But now it’s back to normal. Why?

Janice from Spokane, Wash.

Dear Janice: I’m sure you’ve heard about the placebo effect – take a medication that you think might work and you’re off to the races. That’s probably what happened to your hubby. The most important sex organ is above the shoulders, not below the waist.

Testosterone is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry based on pseudo-scientific pretense. Yes, there are some who truly need it. I had a guy in my office the other day who is 75 and has been on testosterone replacement for years since he lost his testicles in a freak biking accident. He clearly needs it. But for most men, it’s an overhyped drug that doesn’t solve the problems it’s supposed to solve.

If your husband has erectile dysfunction (ED), then Cialis or Viagra are the answer. If it’s a libido issue, I recommend you two take time alone at a spa in the country.

Or take the ton of money you spend on testosterone treatment and have a getaway to Bali. It just might help your sex life and your marriage.

Dr. Zorba Paster hosts a radio program that airs locally at 3 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7. Email him at