T Nation

Trying to Help My Dad

The short of this is, my dad (60 years old now) is in bad shape. He doesn’t exercise, has a (relatively) physically demanding job that’s wrecked his joints, and eats poorly most meals. His sleep is erratic, as he can’t go more than 4 hours without waking up. This has resulted in an abundance of health issues, some of which are beginning to develop (thyroid problems, high blood pressure), whereas he’s lived with others for a while (diabetes).

Now, he’s open to cleaning up his diet, and if his body allows, will exercise. However, I’m looking for a couple things: 1) Does anyone know of any databases/resources/links that could possibly help me to find him more progressive doctors who don’t resort to medication? He is currently taking:

-Glipizide (5mg)
-Metformin (500mg)
-Metoprolol (50mg)
-Levothyroxine (25mcg)
-Warfarin (7.5mg)

every day. 4 of these have been prescribed by the same doctor, and this sounds a bit off to me. I also don’t like the idea of medicating to suppress symptoms, but not actually get at the root of the problem.

And 2) Any advice/links/etc. on how to learn about these meds and their possible combinatory effects would be great. (obviously i’ve been googling them and trying to talk to who i can, so im not asking for someone to just do the looking-up for me).

if you’ve read this far, thanks for anything you can offer.

It might seem like he’s on a lot of medication, but those aren’t heavy duty medications. He uses two different medications to treat one problem, which is okay. The medications make him more healthy, and they don’t have dangerous side effects. Exercise and good diet will also help him become healthier.

What he could maybe do is switch the glipizide to rosiglitazone. Rosiglitazone will help him lose weight and it’ll increase insulin sensitivity instead of just producing more insulin. He could also start a TRT regiment if his testosterone is low. He should increase his levothyroxine dose if his blood pressure is under control. If he has trouble controlling his blood sugar he should start insulin for type 2 diabetes. There’s nothing wrong with medication, if there’s a need for medication. Progressive doctors actually treat symptoms instead of only trying to treat the cause of the issue. It’s called preventative medicine.

i don’t know much about the others, but i take metoprolol and it’s extremely mild and it does its job. it will actually increase his capacity to exercise, which would in turn further lower his blood pressure by natural means.

I’m in exactly the same boat. My suggestion is that you find the time to come visit him as often as possible and then lift with him. It’s a great natural way to lessen blood pressure and allows for some nice father-son bonding.

Without knowing what his numbers look like, it’s impossible to make any recommendations about changes and stopping those meds.

I would also disagree about Warfarin/Coumadin- it can be a pretty ‘hardcore’ medication if not monitored carefully, increasing risk of bleeding and other issues. I’m assuming that he is being properly monitored.

How well is diabetes controlled? Do you have his A1c or fasting/post-meal/random blood sugar readings? I’m going out on a limb because if the combination of metoprolol and warfarin and guessing he has atrial fibrillation? If so, strenuous exercise can be dangerous in some patients because of the inability to control the heart rate. Do NOT try to get him changed to Rosiglitazone, those meds have cardiac issues and can cause/exacerbate heart failure(though that one is the least likely to cause them). I’m guessing he’s probably also got the beginnings of heart failure, too, considering the Afib? How well is his thyroid issue controlled? Too much Synthroid can cause cardiac arrhythmias, too little can make it nearly impossible to lose any weight. Because of the first part, you have to be conservative with the dosing because of his other disease states.

I’d also suggest that he needs to be on MORE meds. Every diabetic that can tolerate ACE inhibitors OR ARBs should be on one, for kidney protection. Every diabetic, regardless of current cholesterol numbers, should be on a statin. There is clear evidence-based data to support this.

He needs to talk to his doctor about starting diet and exercise. These two interventions will do more than any medication to improve the quality of and increase the length of his life. Do not start an exercise plan beyond light walking without discussing with his doctor because of the Warfarin and Metoprolol. Do not start a new diet and introduce a ton of veggies immediately to his diet, because of the Warfarin, because it can affect his bleeding risks and will need to be monitored for that while he is changing. That being said, he should (after talking to the doctor) shoot for 30 minutes of walking 5 days of week and exercising with weights twice a week.

Good luck, I hope your dad is willing and able to make some changes in his life. Diabetes is a nasty disease, but it’s one that can be controlled if a patient is willing to make some life changes.

I’m going to reiterate again- get your dad to talk to his doctor before starting anything major. Too much too fast can be dangerous. Go with your dad if you can. Sit down with him and tell him you love him and want him around for awhile. Most people will not do this for themselves (obviously) but will make hard choices for the people they love because of the way their actions can affect their loved ones. Be supportive, understand that it’s a long road and there are going to be bumps along the way, and that it’s not as easy to lose weight and get healthy when you’re 60 as it is when you’re younger.