Insomnia and Anxiety in Older People

Almost one-third of older people in the U.S. take sleeping pills. These drugs are called “sedative- hypnotics” or “tranquilizers.” They affect the brain and spinal cord. Doctors prescribe the drugs for sleep problems. The drugs are also used to treat other conditions, such as anxiety or alcohol withdrawal. Usually older adults should try nondrug treatments… Read more »

Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a serious condition. The body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joints. This causes swelling, stiffness, and pain. RA cannot be cured but it can be treated. Without treatment, RA can cause permanent damage to joints and internal organs, and disability. How is RA treated? The main drugs to treat… Read more »

Treating Disruptive Behavior in People with Dementia

People with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can become restless, aggressive, or disruptive. They may believe things that are not true. They may see or hear things that are not there. These symptoms can cause even more distress than the loss of memory. Doctors often prescribe powerful antipsychotic drugs to treat these behaviors:… Read more »

Tests Before Heart Surgery

Your doctor may order some tests before you have a heart bypass or another kind of heart surgery. The purpose of the tests is to make the surgery safer. Two common tests are a breathing test and a carotid ultrasound test. But you probably don’t need these tests, unless you have a breathing problem or… Read more »

Heart Tests Before Chest Surgery

If you’re having chest surgery, a stress test can sometimes be helpful. It might find problems that need special care before, during, or after the surgery. Chest surgery may be related to your lungs, esophagus, or another part of your chest. If your surgery is not related to your heart and you don’t have a… Read more »

Echocardiography After Heart Valve Surgery

If you have surgery to replace a damaged heart valve, you may have a test called an echocardiogram or “echo.” It uses sound waves (ultrasound) to make images of the heart and valves. This test can show if the new valve is working well. But sometimes the test is done very soon after surgery, while… Read more »

Feeding Tubes for People with Alzheimer’s Disease

Most people in the last stage of Alzheimer’s disease have difficulty eating and drinking.  At this time, families may wonder if their family member needs a feeding tube. Families want to do everything possible for someone who is ill. But they often get little information about feeding tubes. And they may feel pressure from doctors… Read more »

Medical Tests Before Eye Surgery

If you’re going to have eye surgery, such as to remove cataracts, you may be given some medical tests first. For example, you may have an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check the health of your heart, or a complete blood count (CBC) to check that you have a healthy number of red blood cells. These tests… Read more »

Echocardiogram Before Surgery

If you’re having surgery, you may wonder if you need an echocardiogram first. Some people have this test to make sure it is safe for them to have surgery. An echocardiogram uses sound waves (ultrasound) to take a moving picture of the heart. It shows if your heart has a problem pumping blood, which may put… Read more »

Lyme Disease Tests

Lyme disease is usually caused by a bite from a deer tick. The disease can cause joint pain, aching muscles, and a tired feeling. There are two blood tests for Lyme disease, but usually you do not need them. Here’s why: You do not usually need tests to show that you have Lyme disease. In… Read more »

Testosterone for Erection Problems

Most men have problems with erections from time to time. But some men have erectile dysfunction, or ED. This is when it is difficult to get or keep an erection that’s firm enough for sexual intercourse. If you have ED, you may think that testosterone treatment will help. Testosterone is a male sex hormone. After… Read more »

Treating Blocked Leg Arteries

The arteries in your legs and feet can get blocked, just like the arteries in your heart. When this happens, less blood flows to your legs. This is called peripheral artery disease (PAD). If your leg arteries are badly blocked, you may develop foot pain while resting or a sore that won’t heal. In this… Read more »

Alzheimer’s Disease Testing

It is normal to forget things as you age. But many older people worry that they are getting Alzheim­er’s disease when they can’t remember things. A new drug, used with a PET scan of the brain, can help diagnose Alzheimer’s. But before getting this scan you should have a complete medical exam. If your exam… Read more »

Lab Tests Before Surgery

If you’re going to have surgery, you may have blood and urine tests first. These tests may be helpful if you have certain health conditions or diseases. For example, if you have a blood-clotting problem, a test can show if you’re at risk of too much bleeding during surgery. But most healthy people don’t need… Read more »

Treating Migraine Headaches

Migraine attacks can last for hours—or even days. They can cause intense pain, nausea, and vomiting. They can make you sensitive to light or noise, and they can affect your life and work. To treat migraines, you may get a prescription for an opioid (narcotic) or a barbiturate (sedative) called butalbital. These are pain medicines…. Read more »