Heart disease runs in my family. My maternal grandfather died in his 30s of a coronary, and my dad has had bypass surgery. He is now on several medications, most of which have dreadful side effects. Given this history, I am concerned about my own heart. I have heard that there is something new that is better than just a cholesterol test. Could you tell me more about this?
The test is for C-reactive protein (CRP). This compound is a marker of inflammation and might be a better predictor of heart disease than standard cholesterol tests. Up to half the people with coronary artery disease do not have elevated cholesterol levels.
Because of your family history, you might want to ask your doctor if you are a candidate for the CRP test. The cost can run anywhere from $10 to over $100.
Milk gives me diarrhea, so I no longer drink it. Where else can I get vitamin D, and how much do I need?
Your skin makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. In the winter this is difficult, and many people become deficient in this vitamin by the end of the season. Fish contain some vitamin D, but you will likely need a supplement.
I love black turtleneck sweaters, but my dandruff has been especially bad this winter. I hate constantly brushing flakes off my shoulders. I've tried several different brands of dandruff shampoo, but none seems up to the job. Do you have a recommendation?
Nizoral shampoo used to be prescription-only but is now available over the counter. It contains an antifungal ingredient (ketoconazole) that gets at the underlying cause of dandruff. Alternating every few weeks with a different kind of dandruff shampoo (Selsun Blue, Head & Shoulders, Neutrogena T / Sal) can be effective. against stubborn dandruff.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them from their Web site, www.peoplespharmacy.org.