Q: I've heard I can have my high cholesterol filtered out of my blood, just like kidney dialysis. Is that true? — Jamie C., Chicago
A: Yes and no. There's a treatment called LDL apheresis that's designed for people who can't lower their abnormally high levels of “lousy” LDL cholesterol with lifestyle changes and medications. LDL apheresis filters out the lousy cholesterol from your blood, and leaves good HDL cholesterol behind.
Now, apheresis is only for the unlucky few who have medically resistant, chronically elevated LDL. The condition is usually genetic and is very dangerous. If you have a family history of folks dying suddenly from heart attacks, get checked. Dr. Mike's Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Oz's New York Presbyterian Healthcare System both offer this treatment. It's usually scheduled every few weeks and takes two to four hours.
But if you're not someone who has treatment-resistant LDL, and you're looking for a fast fix for your cholesterol woes, LDL apheresis is not for you.
Instead, be glad you can lower LDL with exercise and eating right. Start by walking 10,000 steps a day. (Check out the plan at www.RealAge.com.) After that, add some resistance exercises and cardio for 20 minutes, three times a week. You'll feel better right from the start.
Next, maintain a healthy weight and keep your liver happy by avoiding the five food felons (saturated and trans fats, added sugars and sugar syrups, and any grain that's not 100 percent whole). And keep alcohol to fewer than two glasses of wine a day. (Your liver makes about 80 percent of your cholesterol; diet adds the rest.) Keep your liver running smoothly by eating lots of fruits, nuts and vegetables.
If you have stubborn LDL cholesterol, your doctor might prescribe a statin, and possibly DHA omega-3 (900 mg a day) and purified omega-7 (420 mg a day). Statins and these supplements also can reduce bodywide inflammation, which may in turn reduce high blood pressure and even arthritis pain.
Q: I'm turning 60 next week, and maybe all those rock 'n' roll concerts I went to are finally taking their toll on my hearing. I think I need a hearing aid, but I don't want to look like my grandmother. Any advice? — Adele, C., Boulder, Colo.
A: Oh, yes. For you — and all the rock 'n' rollers in their 60s and 70s — the answer to “Tommy, can you hear me?” finally might be, yes, because of the amazing breakthroughs audiologists are making these days.
For those of us old enough to have experienced the British Invasion (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and, of course, The Who), hearing troubles are likely a combination of age and the ear-damaging decibels that came through Marshall amplifiers, those early Walkmans or cranking the volume on today's MP3 players past 60 percent! Almost 10 million folks ages 45 to 65 report problems with their hearing, but we believe there's a lot more out there.
Fortunately, hearing aids are now coming in loud and clear, with five digital types: behind the ear; on the ear (smaller than behind the ear); in the ear; in the ear canal (barely visible); and completely in the ear canal (invisible). They work off programmable computer chips that can differentiate between speech and background noise, and can filter out the background. Amazing! And they don't look anything like your grandma's earpiece.
So, get thee to a specialist. If your problem is inner-ear damage (and not accumulated ear wax), you'll go through a series of hearing tests and evaluations to find which type of aid will work best and which you can most easily adjust to. Be patient and persistent. Take various models for a test drive.
The process of choosing the right hearing aid may take some time. But the rewards of being able to comfortably participate in the noisy world around you more than make up for the hassles you may have in getting used to the device.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at firstname.lastname@example.org.