Q. I am a very healthy woman, not overweight, with total cholesterol around 200. I have no history of heart disease in my family.
In spite of all this, I would be put on statins if my doctor were to follow the new heart guidelines. There is no way I would take statins at this point, not with everything I know about them.
A. Key to the new guidelines is the “CV Risk Calculator.” This spreadsheet requests answers to nine questions about age, race, gender, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. Even a healthy person like you, with good numbers and no history of heart disease, could be a candidate for statins depending on age and blood pressure. Some estimate that the new guidelines could double the number of people on such drugs to more than 70 million.
A healthy Mediterranean-style diet and an exercise program could be as effective as statins without the side effects (JAMA Internal Medicine, Oct. 28, 2013).
Q. I had a lumpectomy 15 years ago. The scar still itches and is painful. Do you know of any remedies?
A. One implausible-sounding approach is the original-formula hemorrhoid ointment Preparation H. Readers of this column have used this product to help heal bedsores, soothe dry, cracked fingers and relieve the itch of surgical scars. One woman wrote years ago that the burning and itching from a heart-surgery scar drove her crazy until she applied old-fashioned Preparation H to it.
Since then, Preparation H has been reformulated in the U.S. It no longer contains the live yeast cell derivative (LYCD) that may have contributed to its healing power. A study in diabetic mice found that LYCD dramatically improved healing of skin wounds.