COVID-19 fears are keeping heart attack patients out of the ER
In 1974, President Richard Nixon delayed a visit to the hospital for phlebitis (blood clots in his left leg) because he had nosocomephobia, an exaggerated fear of hospitals. He worried that if he went in, he’d never come out alive. It’s a pretty common phobia, especially now that the global pandemic has turned hospitals in many locations into M*A*S*H units and filled them to capacity with potentially lethal, infected patients.
It’s especially evident among people suffering from life-threatening cardiovascular conditions. A recent Gallup poll found that 86 percent of people with heart disease said they would be either “very concerned” or “moderately concerned” about contracting the virus from a hospital visit. An informal Twitter poll by an online community of cardiologists found almost half reported a 40 percent to 60 percent reduction in admissions for heart attacks; 20 percent reported greater than a 60 percent reduction. That is scary, since it means that people are not getting early intervention that can save their lives and may be dying at home.
If you have symptoms that could signal a heart attack — tightness and pain in the chest, lightheadedness, clammy skin, sweating, heartburn or (often in women) discomfort in the neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdomen, shortness of breath or nausea — call 911. EMTs and ERs are eager and prepared to help you with a cardiovascular emergency. Your risk of catching COVID-19 in the ER is not great if recommended precautions are in place (protective gear, distance between patients, no visitors, etc.). Let them help.
How to brew the healthiest cup of coffee
A French press is 1) an exercise that builds triceps strength — you lie on your back and raise and lower a barbell by straightening and bending your arms, and 2) a way to strengthen the flavor of brewed coffee by allowing more of the beans’ oils to permeate the liquid.
Well, we don’t recommend No. 1, because you can injure yourself too easily. Dr. Mike says instead you should try the shoulder matrix exercise, which he described on Sharecare.com: Holding a two-pound dumbbell in each hand, position the weights at your shoulders. Press them straight over your head. Bring them back down to your shoulders. On your next repetition, press them up and slightly to the left. Next time press to the right, then forward, then slightly backward. Repeat the cycle.
No. 2, French press coffee, turns out not to be a good idea either. A recent study looked at coffee brewing methods and the risk for heart attack and death, and it adds an exclamation point to what we’ve said for years: Unfiltered coffee ups the risk of cardio woes, and filtered coffee is safest — safer even than drinking no coffee at all.
The research, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, reveals that a cup of unfiltered coffee contains about 30 times the concentration of harmful lipid-raising substances compared with filtered coffee. So enjoy one to four cups a day of filtered coffee (with no sugar, sugar substitutes or creamers) and try Dr. Mike’s shoulder matrix exercise. The combo will do wonders for your heart.
One more reason you want a healthy pregnancy
When Beyonce was pregnant with her twins, Rumi and Sir, she developed preeclampsia. That led to a month’s bed rest before an emergency C-section. The babies were in neonatal intensive care for a month after birth.
Preeclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure and high amounts of protein in the urine, which can damage fetal development and endanger a woman’s health. It affects about one in 25 pregnancies in the United States every year. Afterward, mom may develop high blood pressure and heart disease. Now we know it can cause mental, behavioral and emotional problems in kids.
A Finnish study of 4,743 mother-child pairs, published in the journal Hypertension, found that kids had a 66 percent higher risk of mental disorders if their moms had preeclampsia and a 100 percent greater risk if the preeclampsia was severe.
The causes of preeclampsia are complex — including having multiples, like Beyonce — but you can reduce the risk by losing weight if you are overweight, not smoking anything, getting your blood pressure under control if you have chronic high levels, exercising regularly and, if you have a high-risk pregnancy, taking an 81-milligram aspirin daily after your 12th week.
Early diagnosis and treatment can control preeclampsia and help assure you and your baby will be healthy for years to come. That’s why it is so important for all pregnant women to have regular prenatal doctor’s visits to check your blood pressure and urine protein levels, as well as a Doppler scan that measures blood flow to the placenta.
Food combinations that deliver a knock-out blow to your brain
Queen Victoria was renowned for her mental quirkiness and her royal feasts, which often included four to six courses with seven to nine dishes each. Plates would be piled high with entrees such as duck in Cumberland sauce and roast lamb, plus there was always a sideboard laden with hot and cold meats — pate and sausages — in case she or her guests got hungry between courses. And she loved potatoes and ice cream.
Turns out that menu amped up her risk for obesity (she was 5 feet tall with a 45-inch waist) and dementia. According to a new study in Neurology, it’s not just what you eat that affects brain health, it’s also the food combinations you consume that matter.
Researchers from the University of Bordeaux in France looked at people’s so-called food networks. They discovered that when processed meats such as bacon, sausage and lunchmeats are the center of your food world and consistently are supported with starchy foods like potatoes, alcohol (Victoria favored a drink made with single malt Scotch and claret!), and cookies and cake, you’re much more likely to develop dementia. Folks who dodged dementia were found to eat a diverse diet, and if they happened to eat processed meat would combine it with fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed carbs.
The researchers suggest you try to build many small food networks that weave together combinations of different kinds of fresh produce with seafood (salmon and ocean trout) and lean poultry. That’s the way to treat yourself royally!
Do your juice drinks contain any fruit?
When entertainers Penn and Teller use their remarkable abilities for misdirection — distracting you from what is happening right before your eyes — you fall for it time after time. Turns out it is pretty easy to fool yourself, even if you think you’re being vigilant.
That’s a trick some juice companies rely on to get you to buy their beverages. According to a study in AJPH, a publication of the American Public Health Association, an analysis of top-selling “juice drinks,” marketed to kids found that 97 percent showed images of fruits on the label, but only 47 percent contained any of the fruits that were depicted, and 37 percent contained NONE of the fruits pictured on their labels.
It is such a problem that rather than changing the law, the Food and Drug Administration issued a recommendation in 2016 that says you have to look at the ingredients list on a juice bottle to determine if a drink contains real fruit — the pictures (and words) on the label don’t have to make it clear. That’s also true for many flavorings: For example, the FDA says current regulations allow use of terms like “maple” or “maple-flavored” on the food label without having maple syrup in the product, as long as it contains something that creates a maple taste.
We say skip juices and opt to give your child fresh fruit instead. Real fruit delivers fiber and an array of nutrients along with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Then give thirsty kids water in BPA-, BPS-free bottles.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.