As we age we can become prone to chronic health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma. Most of these chronic health care diseases are preventable and expensive to treat.

Many times patients wait until they have been diagnosed with a chronic health care condition before they start to take their health seriously.

I have seen this time and time again in my office. It begs the question: “Why wait until you are sick before you take care of yourself?”

One of my patients told me about her husband who just had a minor stroke. He was overweight and had high blood pressure. She told me he started dieting to lose weight and was joining a gym.

There are patients who are proactive and attempt to stop a chronic health care issue before it starts. They take a hard look at their lifestyles and make the necessary adjustments to improve their health.

One such patient entered my office with a sore shoulder and generalized muscle aches. He had dislocated his shoulder 20-plus years ago. He was now swimming regularly for exercise.

Our examination of his shoulder revealed normal range of motion. His shoulder blade was elevated, with tenderness at the joint of his collarbone and shoulder blade.

I made a diagnosis of tendinitis with chronic weakness in his shoulder from an old injury. I recommended manipulation of his shoulder. He was prescribed exercises to strengthen his shoulder. We also used moist heat at home.

I also asked him to vary his swimming strokes so he would not use the same muscles and tendons that already were aggravated. His shoulder responded quickly to conservative care.

His other concern was his general muscle aches, which had been going on for over three months.

As I questioned him about what he had done differently over the last few months, he stated he had a physical in the spring and his blood tests showed his cholesterol was modestly elevated. He also had gained weight.

As a result of his blood tests, he was prescribed a cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin. Statins lower cholesterol to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Twenty-four million prescriptions are written each year.

Just because a drug is prescribed regularly does not mean that it does not have side effects. The same is true for over-the-counter drugs.

It is reported 20 percent of individuals taking statins have significant muscle pains and damage. This may make the benefits of taking a statin not worth the side effects.

My patient asked what his options were if he decided to discontinue his medication. I recommended he contact his health care provider to inform him of his decision. I told him there are ways to reduce cholesterol other than taking a pill.

I told him to increase his exercise program gradually. We recommended changes in his diet. No more processed food. I told him if it came in a box, can or package, don’t eat it. This includes soft drinks. Limit his alcohol intake.

In other words, we want him to eat a primitive diet.

Nutritional supplements we recommended were fish oil, vitamin C and coenzyme Q. These help reduce cholesterol and inflammation, which has been shown to contribute to stroke.

He followed this program and his muscle aches subsided and his cholesterol returned to normal.

Athletes need to know all of the side effects of the medications they are taking. This can have an effect on how you train.

Dr. Robert Lynch is a former president of the Maine Chiropractic Association and head of the Lynch Chiropractic Center in South Portland. “Staying in the Game” appears every other Thursday in the Press Herald.