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The Pharmacist Answers Podcast

Have a question for the pharmacist? Get your answers here! Clear explanations about complicated medical topics that anyone can understand. Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog and related podcast are not to be taken as medical advice, they are for informational and educational purposes only. If you resemble anything that is mentioned in this blog or related podcast, contact your doctor. The information contained in this blog and related podcasts is the opinion of the author and does not relfect the views of her employer, Walgreens. If you want to know what Walgreens thinks, ask Walgreens!
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Now displaying: March, 2016
Mar 28, 2016

Blood vessels are like flexible pipes that run to every nook and cranny of your body.  When they dilate (or widen), they let more blood through; when they constrict (or narrow), they let less blood through.  If the blood vessels constrict and the body part at the end of that path feels deprived, it may send a pain signal to the brain.

If the blood vessels constrict or dilate quickly, your body will feel it and it may be translated as pain.

Headaches can be the result of an overall constriction of blood vessels in the head.

Your brain is full of neurons (nerve cells), and even though they translate pain, they don't sense pain.

Caffeine can gently open up constricted blood vessels.

Your body is efficient, so when you sleep, certain blood vessels to certain parts of your body (like digestive tract and skeletal muscles) constrict to maximize blood flow to other places.  Once you wake up, the process by which the body re-dilates those vessels can be slow.  Exercise can make it faster.  So can caffeine.

The reason why caffeine helps us wake up: it dilates the blood vessels so more blood flows to the areas of the brain that control attention and focus and alertness.

Caffeine pill = 200 mg

Water for a headache?  If you're dehydrated, your blood will be slightly thicker and may be harder to get to the nooks and crannies, and that can cause headache.  Dehydration can also cause low blood pressure can lead to headache.

The reason caffeine is in OTC headache pills - 1) caffeine can dilate blood vessels, and 2) it speeds up heart rate with increases how fast the other meds flow through the body.

Lucy and Ethel

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"Radio Martini" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Mar 21, 2016

Fats don't mix with water.  Some fats are liquid at room temperature (oils), some fats are solid at room temperature.

Because so much of your body is made up of water, fats are very unhappy there.  So your body will take this "head" that likes water, and sticks it on the lipid "tails".
*Correction: This combination is called a Phospholipid

Then they will form a little ball where all the water-hating tails are inside, and all the water-liking heads are on the outside.  This is called a Lipoprotein

LDL = Low-density lipoprotein ("Bad")               HDL = High-density lipoprotein ("Good")

Density = the amount of stuff you can cram in a limited space
- A lot of stuff in a small space = high density
- A little bit of stuff in a big space = low density

In the lipoproteins, extra proteins are added to help direct it where to go.  HDLs have more proteins to help them stay focused than LDLs, so LDLs are like distracted drivers...

The Egg Controversy (while I avoid a lot of HuffPost articles, and I don't know much else about this author, I agree with 90% of what he says here - and that's more than I can say about other information I found out there)

LDLs also have more triglycerides crammed into them.  Triglyceride have 3 water-hating tails instead of one.

You don't need your cholesterol number to be zero.  You need cholesterols to build cell membranes and hormones, you just don't want there to be too much of it.

So the LDLs are less directed so they end up crashing into each other and sticking together.  Then if they crash into the artery wall, they may get stuck there and just becomes a place where more stuff can get stuck.  This is how atherosclerosis and blockages happens.  A bunch of cholesterol is stuck to the walls of the arteries.

What's the magic number?

There is NO magic number!

HDL: > 40 men, > 50 women
LDL: < 100
Trigs: < 150
TC: < 200

So, the bottom line is HDLs and LDLs are the types of packages your body uses to carry fatty acids around your body.

The main hub of all this cholesterol packing and shipping and using is your liver.  Once the liver is done using all the fatty acids it needs, if there's a bunch extra, it starts packing them away into adipose (or fat) tissue and storing it wherever it can around your body.  And there is NO LIMIT to the size of the fat stores!

The Statin Controversy (this is a great summary - the bottom line being that the people recommending "statins for everyone" stand to benefit greatly in their pocketbook if more people in the world actually started taking (aka buying) statins.)

Familial Hypercholesterolemia = genetically inherited high cholesterol

Lifestyle changes (eating healthy foods and an appropriate amount of exercise) can never be bad for you!

Risk Assessment

If you take your coffee the "bulletproof" way, consult your doctor first.

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"Radio Martini" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Mar 14, 2016
  1. Your pharmacist is not a mind-reader (neither is anyone else)
  2. Your pharmacist is a human (as is anyone else who serves you)
  3. Your pharmacist cannot prescribe
  4. Your pharmacist is not "besties" with all the doctors in town.
  5. Your pharmacist is not your personal assistant or secretary

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"Radio Martini" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Mar 7, 2016

You're smart, I know you are!  I want you to apply those smarts and help me out a bit.

There's a lot of information thrown at us about our health, or some new treatment or medicine, or some new aspect of a disease.  The media is flat out MEAN about how and when it presents you with this information (usually, it's incomplete, biased, and twisted into a scare tactic).

Anyone with a brain will know that anything in excess can be bad.

Some tips on judging the source of information:

  • Are they trustworthy?
  • What is their reputation of presenting "shock and awe" headlines just to get views, clicks, or attention?
  • Is it a celebrity or politician who wants some screen time and just wants to be the loudest voice in the room?

Critical thinking is a dying skill, please don't let it go extinct.

Science and medical information is classified based on how close to the "horse's mouth" it is.  Scientists who do the study, write the reports and articles, and publish it in journals themselves - those are called primary sources.  To be trustworthy, they have to state any limitations their study had, confounding factors, and any biases (aka money paid by someone who cares - like drug companies or lobbying groups).  Then there may be a group of scientists or statisticians that take several primary resources that studied the same thing and compare all their outcomes and come up with an overarching conclusion - those are called secondary sources.  Articles that reach the public and may have citations of using primary or secondary sources for some of the information presented are called tertiary sources.  They are so far removed from the primary source that they CANNOT be used for academic research!

Again, critical thinking skills are vital for our success in society.  Don't follow the fads!  Don't allow yourself to be duped by people who line their pockets with money from people who are ignorant about the subject they're screaming about.

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"Radio Martini" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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