These are questions with answers that are most commonly asked. Many of these questions have been submitted through to and answered by Dr Simcock, a neurologist and the Neurological Foundation’s Medical Advisor.

  • I have to take a number of medicines every day but I struggle with failing eyesight and my memory isn't as good as it used to be. What can I do to ensure I don't forget to take them or confuse them?

    You are sensible to be concenred and there are a very easy ways you can ensure you don't make mistakes with your medication.

    * Try wrapping rubber bands around each pill bottle equaling the number of daily doses. Remove one band each time you take the medication, and then replace all of the bands for the following day.

    * Keep a medication chart in order to record whether you have taken your pills. This can be a simple dry-erase board on the fridgedoor; put a check next to each medication after you take it.

  • I read about a new tablet for migraine mentioned on page 14 of headlines, issue 84. Is it available in New Zealand?

    The tablet contains sumatriptan (Imigran) with naproxen sodium (Naprosyn). Imigran is available in 50 and 100mg tablets and a 6mg self-administered subcutaneous injection. Naproxen sodium is one of several non-steroidal ant-imflammatory agents, others being Nurofen, ibuprufen, diclofenac (Voltaren) and Synflex. While the combination of a triptan with a NSAID is useful, I think it is better to take them seperately so that the dose of each and their timing can be prescribed appropriately for each patient. The combination tablet is not available in New Zealand.

  • I read that a hole in the heart can cause migraine. Is this true?

    Some normal people have a persistent opening between the right and left atria of the heart (a patent foramen ovale) which usually closes around the time of birth. More people with this get migraine when compared with people with a closed foramen ovale all though the reason for this is still unclear.

  • I recently had my blood pressure checked and my doctor said it was a little on the high side but if I changed my diet and exercised more it would help lower it. How does physical activity lower blood pressure?

    Part of the explanation is that exercise produces weight loss and increased sensitivity to insulin (a hormone involved in the control of blood sugar), which in turn decrease blood pressure. But more directly, physical activity makes the heart stronger, and a stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. This means less pressure on the walls of the arteries as blood flows from the heart to your tissues.

  • I saw a television program recently about a disease which I think was called progressive supranuclear plasy. Is this a neurological disorder?

    Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a progressive disease with some similarities to Parkinson's disease. PSP has different changes in the affected nerve cells from PD, but it affects the motor (movement) system. The word supranuclear refers to the site in the brain of the changes causing the cardinal feature of PSP, the inability to move the eyes properly. Falls occur early in PSP whereas they are a late feature of PD and PSP is often more rapidly progressive and less responsive to treatment.