Q: Recently, I went with my 86-year-old dad to his doctor's appointment. His blood pressure was still too high, but he said he was taking all his meds. I know he's not, because I see what's left over when it's time for a refill. What should I do? -- Patricia, K., Highland Beach, Florida
A: You're right to want to find a solution, and soon. Starting and stopping antihypertensive medication, or not taking it at all, means your dad's heart is being stressed, and that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
One option? They now have a blood test that will determine if he's been taking the meds as prescribed. But before you suggest that route to his doctor, try to find out why your dad isn't taking the medication. Ask him:
Does the medicine make him feel bad? If that's the case, his doctor should check that the drugs aren't having a bad interaction with other meds Dad takes; the dosage could be adjusted; or your dad could switch to another one of the 150 approved antihypertension meds.
Is he embarrassed to admit that he forgets? Try a medicine reminder! They come with alarms and daily dose holders. There are also cellphone apps, wristwatches and pocket pagers that will ring and/or send messages when it's time for a dose.
Does he think he doesn't need to take them? Your dad may not understand what it means to have high blood pressure (it's called the silent killer, after all) and an in-depth conversation about the risks of letting it go untreated -- and the remarkable benefits of controlling it -- may be what's called for. Good luck!
Q: I read that putting belly fat on the brain can help reverse Alzheimer's. It doesn't make any sense to me. Isn't fat (especially belly fat) bad for the brain? Please explain. -- Nancy S., Indianapolis
A: Well you're half right. Fat is like real estate -- it's all about location, location, location, and belly fat is in a bad part of town: It increases cardio- and brain-damaging inflammation, triggers insulin resistance, makes it hard to regulate your appetite and increases the risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer, even asthma and other chronic diseases. That happens because belly or visceral fat lodges in the spaces between your abdominal organs and attaches to the omentum, an apron of tissue draped behind your stomach muscles. Visceral fat is juiced up by the omentum's powerful chemical components (more on that in a moment), so fat's bad influence is speedily delivered throughout your body.
But a healthy, thin omentum (and your question confuses belly fat with the omentum) is designed to heal, not injure, the body. It contains cells that influence the immune system and help control inflammation, PLUS omnipotent stem cells, growth factors and other hormones essential for healing. And it's the omentum's powers, not the belly fat attached to it or around it, that may help an Alzheimer's-damaged brain!
The Alzheimer's experiment was done by stretching a piece of omentum, with its blood flow intact, up through the body and laying it over the brain like a throw rug. This seemed to increase blood flow in the brain and improve cognitive powers, maybe by triggering growth of new neurons. But this procedure is years away from being generally applied. By the time it is, other less-difficult procedures or new medications may make omental transfer surgery (which is very tough on older patients) unnecessary.
(Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at firstname.lastname@example.org)