Don’t Trust Your Doctor,
Or any other healthcare provider.
That probably sounds funny coming from a nurse practitioner.
Here’s the story behind the statement.
I do DOT (Department of Transportation) physical exams. This gives me access to some of the unhealthiest people in the United States.
Much of the time. drivers try to conceal their medical issues from me so they can get their CDL (Commercial Drivers License). Some drivers are more than honest and tell you everything. One such driver was telling me the medications he was on. He was explaining this to me in a narrative style as opposed to giving me a list.
The conversation went something like this.
Driver: I’m on blood pressure pills and the doctor also put me on something for my cholesterol because it was starting to get high and she just wanted to cover all the bases.
At this time I cringed slightly.
I asked him what his numbers were and they, indeed, were elevated.
I, matter of factly, asked if he had been having any muscle pains since starting the statins. He was visibly surprised by my question.
Drive: Yes! As a matter of fact, I referee sports and lately I get such a cramp in my hand that I can’t unbend my fingers.
Additionally, he is on a water pill.
I asked: Did you tell your doctor?
Drive: Yes and she said I was low on magnesium.
I explained that muscle cramping is a well-known issue with statins. He was totally unaware.
I asked if the doctor had reviewed potential side effects and danger signs of his medications.
I asked if the doctor had offered him alternatives like Red Yeast Rice or lifestyle changes.
I asked if he asked questions about indications for medicines or alternatives.
Driver: “I just trust the doctor. She says take this and I take it”.
At this point, I want to jump up and down and rant and rave and scream “Are you an idiot?”.
The state of medical care in this country is at a dangerous level.
Health care providers don’t have time, even if they have the desire, to really talk to their patients and explain every medication and alternatives to the use of medicine. You can thank the “business” of medicine for that, but that’s another story.
Don’t trust your doctor to get to the cause of the problem. The patient presents with a symptom and we run tests and poke and prod a little and write a prescription.
Every prescription you take has potential side effects and interactions with other medicines. This is also true of over-the-counter medications.
My advice to this gentleman was to go to WebMD to look up his medications so he is familiar with what they are used for and any potential side effects.
For your information, “Statins” while lowering your cholesterol, also have an effect on your blood sugar. They increase it. Water pills, especially HCTZ (Hydrochlorothiazide) also have this effect. Can you lower your cholesterol too much? Yes. Recent research has found that statins do not decrease the risk of first heart attack, especially in older adults. Statins have also been associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s. While there are good reasons to prescribe statins, lifestyle change should be the first step. Medicine should always be the last choice.
Bottom line: Don’t ever take everything your doctor says as “Gospel”. Always ask questions. Be an informed consumer. More than 100,000 people, in the USA, die annually from adverse reactions to appropriately prescribed medications. This does not have to happen It is up to you. Don’t trust your doctor.
To Your Best Health
Terri Lohman DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice)