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Memory loss and Vytorin

>Q. My doctor prescribed Vytorin for high cholesterol. While my cholesterol went from over 350 to 190 in five weeks, I ended up having an eight-hour episode of transient global amnesia (TGA).

I knew who I was, and I recognized my family and friends, but I didn't know the year. I didn't recognize streets I have driven for many years. I asked my husband the same five questions in the hospital over and over until late in the evening, when my memory returned.

I read on spacedoc.net about a man who had the same experience while on Lipitor. "Spacedoc" is a retired astronaut and doctor.

I immediately went off Vytorin. I don't want high cholesterol, but I do want to remember where I live. I'd like to try something else for controlling my cholesterol. Do you have any ideas?

A. We have heard from many other readers who have experienced memory problems on statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs. Vytorin contains simvastatin.

Some have shared similar stories of TGA. One man forgot how to shift his sports car into gear. Another forgot the route to work.

Several other kinds of medicines may help in your quest to control cholesterol. We are sending you our Guide to Cholesterol Control and Heart Health with many suggestions for other medications and nondrug approaches to lowering cholesterol. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. C-8, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. It also can be downloaded for $2 from our website: www.peoplespharmacy.com.

Ask your doctor about psyllium, niacin, fish oil, fibrates and bile acid binders. One or more may help solve the problem.

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>Q. I read your response to a reader with blepharitis who suggested T/Gel was helpful. You mentioned there is no study of this treatment.

While I can't offer any scientific study, I can offer another data point for the method. My physician diagnosed blepharitis and recommended applying T/Gel in the shower every night.

It has not only been 100 percent effective in treating the problem, but also efficient. I have used only 40 percent of the 4.4 ounce bottle during four years of treatment.

A. Blepharitis is a medical term for inflammation of the eyelid. Symptoms may include itching, redness, flaking and crusting on the edge of the eyelid.

You are not the only one to find dandruff shampoo helpful. We recently heard from another reader: "Not only does Selsun Blue shampoo control my blepharitis, it's the only thing that works. I apply the foam to the eyelids for about 15 seconds each shower to knock out the itching and redness.

"I tried prescription medication from my doctor, and it made my lids gooey and clouded my vision. I have to use the shampoo on a regular basis or the blepharitis comes back, but it does work."

Dandruff shampoos have antifungal activity, which may explain why they work. Be sure to keep all shampoo out of the eyes!

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>Q. Can you tell me anything about the product Alli? It is for weight loss. Does it cause any damage to the liver?

A. Alli (orlistat) is an OTC weight-loss medicine that interferes with fat absorption. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration warned about a rare possibility of severe liver injury associated with orlistat. Symptoms to be alert for include itching, yellow eyes or skin, fever, weakness, vomiting, fatigue, dark urine, light-colored stools or loss of appetite.

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