The doctor is in, Mehmet Cengiz Oz that is, better known as Dr. Oz. I had a unique opportunity to interview Dr. Oz to discuss various health topics and his exclusive interview with Rosie O’Donnell about her life threatening ordeal for his two time Emmy award winning nationally syndicated talk show, The Dr. Oz Show. The show is a multi-topic, multi-segment national conversation on health which offers topical newsworthy information. “Having Rosie come on and talk about her heart attack was an absolute dream for me because I‘m always searching for those iconic moments when you create an event that will forever define a process.” Dr Oz continued, “And heart attack is the number one killer of women. They’ve never had a female spokesperson.” What woman out there represents heart disease in America? The unfortunate reality is, there isn’t any woman out there representing heart disease. “So to fill that important slot that now Rosie represents and speak to and help women appreciate that it could be you and she does it tastefully. That was a dream come true.”
This season Dr. Oz has more invited celebrity guests on his show than he did on past seasons. The reason being that they are very insightful and that they trust Dr. Oz to have a real conversation on varying topics, and most importantly their health and well being. Past guests who have offered unique perspectives include Paula Abdul, Valerie Bertinelli, and Kristie Alley among others. “They trust us to have real conversations that allow them to provide a service, but also they have unique insights and felt like they have worked out stuff.”
Celebrities are not necessarily smarter than the regular folks. Instead they have had more spotlight on them and are forced to analyze things more. “They‘re not smarter than everyone else, they just have had a lot more focused on them, so they spend a lot more thinking about the things they do,” Dr. Oz said.
Although the show is not focused around celebrities Dr. Oz has an open invitation for Paul McCartney and others for different reasons. Meditation has been an important part of Paul’s life and Dr. Oz would love to discuss it in depth with the artist. “I‘m trying to understand how the creative forces and his ability to go through the good and the bad in his life and changed,” he said. “He was part of the reason that meditation and yoga came to North America. I’d love to hear his perspective on how it changed him. I’m actually optimistic one day we’ll get him, but I just haven’t been able to do it yet.”
The main focus of this interview with Dr. Oz was his insightful interview with Rosie O’Donnell who almost died from a heart attack which she brought to a national spotlight. “Rosie‘s a very insightful person,” Dr. Oz shared during our interview.
Dr. Oz was stunned by how she went through the symptoms that she had, which are typical for a woman having a heart attack. The most revealing part of the interview was when Dr. Oz pointed out that indigestion is the obvious symptom of heart attack in women that is often ignored. “She ignored and ignored them the way any other woman would. She ignored them because she didn’t want to bother the family with having to deal with her issues.” He added, “She didn’t ignore them because she had more important things she needed to deal with on her calendar.”
Both Dr. Oz and Rosie had a soulful and emotional conversation about her near death experience and the process she went through before full identifying what was really happening to her. “She talks about how she almost died because she ignored these weird pains, the shortness of breath, the dizziness, the nausea.” Dr. Oz continued, “Her kids were saying, you look like you‘re a ghost, you‘re so pale.”
Going through all the obvious symptoms, Rosie was still treating herself, holding out and trying to reconcile all her symptoms. “She was putting ice packs on herself to cool,” he said.
In the middle of all this there was this whispering voice in her head that reminded her of a TV commercial she had seen when she was a child. “There‘s this little whispering voice that said, take an aspirin and she took the aspirin,” Dr. Oz shared.
Rosie went to the hospital with a typical set of signs and was evaluated and immediately diagnosed to be having a heart attack. Dr. Oz. says, “She was right in the throes of having a heart attack.” he continued, “She was later rushed to the angiogram suite where they take pictures of what the vessels look like and in the course of that she was identified to have a widow maker lesion. She‘s rushed to the catherization lab where a stint is placed to open up that blocked area.” Dr. Oz went through that in great details on the show with images demonstrating what happened. “She has done a lot of things to fix that unfortunate reality.”
When a woman goes in to an autopsy suite who has passed away suddenly, the first thing doctors do is to look in the stomach. The very first thing they look for is to see if there is Pepto-Bismol or antacids in their stomach. This is done because women often will have indigestion as their first sign of a heart attack. “If they have Pepto-Bismol in their belly, it means they were ignoring the symptoms that were warning them they were about to die, so they died,” Dr. Oz said.
As the interview went on, it became more emotional when Rosie spoke about how she ignored the symptoms, what it meant about how she viewed her life, how women view their lives often the same way. And the reason she decided to come out and talk about it. Dr. Oz said, “The hard thing is, she hasn‘t talked to anybody so far–it was with the earnest desire to help people not die.”
Dr. Oz spent a lot of time talking to Rosie about things she should be able to do in her own life, valuable tips that would benefit her and people who watch the show. “Oprah is the face of heart disease for women in America now, and she probably will be for the rest of her life,” he said.
Sometimes these moments occur that provide an obvious teachable moment. “This is it. Women classically have different kinds of pain than men,” says Dr. Oz. “And every woman in America from now on, when they are having these weird symptoms like fatigue and dizziness should start thinking it may be a case of heart attack. They‘re going to be thinking, well Rosie ignored, I better deal with it.”
Dr. Oz hopes this is an eye opener which will allow women to speak up more when they visit the hospital or doctors and that they won’t downplay their symptoms. “Women will leave the show knowing they‘re not going to go in the hospital saying, I feel like I got a little thing here and there.” Dr. Oz added, “They are not going to downplay their symptoms. They are going to go in and say Rosie had a heart attack with symptoms like mine. Could I have a heart attack? That’s a very loud wake up call to all the doctors in the emergency room to really pay attention to this woman. One doctor hears that word heart attack, we think sudden death. So we can’t put you on the back burner and get back to you in a couple of hours.”
If she had passed on, her family would be left to grieve her. Grief is very common, and with any loss comes that moment when family and friends face that moment. “We are supposed to have grief moments in our lives,” says Dr. Oz. “One of the big mistakes we make with grief, just thinking that it has an expiration date. That you should stop grieving after x number of months or in years. It doesn’t work that way. I think many people live with grief their whole life. That will always be a part of life.” There are syndromes that happen when you have grieving that are harmful. Dr. Oz has had cases after operating on one person, their spouse collapse in the waiting room and he had to operate on them also.
It is not rare that the chance of dying increases dramatically when people who have been married for many years lose a spouse. This broken heart syndrome was studied by Hopkins Group and happens as the hormones surge during grief. They slow down the ability of the heart to function and they are ensuing heart failure, it leads to irregular heart beats and sudden death. “So you die of broken heart. It‘s not just that metaphorical sign.” Dr. Oz continued, “In fact, the heart, which is our poetic organ is so for a reason because it speaks to us in so many different ways.”
What have helped humans deal with grief are each other. We support each other; we provide tools to allow each other to have a safety net. “The top ten things that drive stress in our lives, seven are financial. This financial stressor as a huge hit. I have data, for example on bankruptcy,” Dr. Oz stated. “People who have bankruptcy in their life die on average, seven years earlier than people who don’t. If you have loved ones around who can provide a safety net that help you through the difficult time, your loss of life is measured in months, not years. So the ability for us to come together to help someone who’s grieving is the single most important thing we can do.”
According to Dr. Oz, weight is the number one reversible risk factor for heart problems in America. “It is probably the number one reversible risk factor for cancer.” Rosie has that issue and she is aware of it. “She knows it and what makes her such a wonderful spokesperson, besides the fact that she‘s willing to expose herself. I pay her tribute for that, it takes a lot,” says, Dr. Oz.
Rosie knows it is a problem that is very hard to fix. People have all sorts of reasons why they cannot lose weight, some are biological, a biology of blubber which makes it more difficult for them than others. Dr. Oz also points out other reasons why we stay heavy, which are emotional, a major driver and Rosie really has a grasp of that. “She changed my life, she helped me understand some of these realities.” According to Dr. Oz, Rosie appreciates why women like her cant lose weight. She articulates her struggles and why people who are looking death in the eyes are unable to advert glare can now begin to say why.
We also had a chance to discuss wellness and healthy food choices. Dr. Oz said antioxidant in many ways is the fountain of youth. They are needed to prevent the rusting of the body. To kill bacteria and viruses and other bad things like cancer cells in our body, we have oxidants. “We create these torpedoes that destroy these things we don’t want in our body. If you have too many of these torpedoes, you end up with friendly fire destroying your own cells.”
Oxidation is a rusting process that happens because of natural desires to kill off bacteria. Because we eat the wrong kind of food, fried foods in particular, we are exposed to sun, toxins in the environment and a variety of other things that cause that. He stresses that you have to manage oxidation correctly. “If you can limit its damage to your body, you‘ll look better, feel better and live longer,” Dr. Oz shared.
Leafy green vegetables or any colorful food that’s naturally colored are great source of prevention. Those colors are all antioxidants and prevent damage from sunlight, so when you eat those foods you get them to prevent the internal rusting that otherwise damage you. Dr. Oz explains, “The red of the peppers, the yellow of the lemon, the green of the arugula, the reason they have those colors is because that’s how they protect themselves from the sun. All those colors are all antioxidants.”
Oxidation is critically important as a byproduct in cancers. When you have too much of it, you rust away damaged cells that lead to cancers when they make mistakes fixing themselves. It is a major driver of hardening of the arteries which leads to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, impotence, even skin wrinkles. The basic antioxidant reality is one area that people thinks make a lot of sense, is aspirin. Although aspirin thins the blood, “which is nice for heart attacks,” says Dr. Oz. It saved Rosie’s life by chewing on an aspirin. “It‘s also a very potent antioxidant that prevents aging.”
Dr. Oz’s advice to everyone over 40 is that they should be taking two baby aspirin a day. Even with all this advice and knowledge, people are not taking more precautions to save themselves. “We struggle with this on the show,” says Dr. Oz. “It‘s not what you are saying, it‘s how you say it that matters to people.” Study shows that people don’t change based on what they know, they change based on how they feel. “If I can get you to wake up, if I can Rosie to become aware that those foods will prevent further rusting of our arteries and reduce gestating cancer, she‘ll do it. She gets that message and she‘s doing it.”
Dr. Oz also suggests that people should go out and spread the word. “People need to hear it. If you look at people who are wondering around happy go lucky and enjoying themselves, eating the right things, losing weight, feeling good, they‘re one camp,” he says. “You have a lot of people going the opposite direction and the people who are in the opposite direction don’t realize that whenever you walk into a grocery store, you‘re walking into a pharmacy. These are powerful nutrients and they are not just nice things to do when you have a chance, they are a foundation of your long term health.”
In the television world, ratings matter, however, Dr. Oz feel that they have a larger mission than just ratings on The Dr. Oz Show. “If you don’t make reasonable ratings you won’t be on the air very long,” he stated. “We show up everyday to work thinking what’s the service we‘re going to offer today. And we can make noise in a way that’s different from the way others make noise. I don’t need to do things that are vapid distracting from message of service.”
Having Rosie O’Donnell on the show attracts people to what The Dr. Oz Show is serving at the table. “There are a lot of other buffets out there that have firecrackers and dancing girls, et cetera that are competing in a different genre. So in our room in the restaurant, people are looking for what we‘re offering which is a thoughtful, life changing conversation with someone that you‘re curious about and you just wonder how the heck did that happen.”
Interviewed by Daedrian McNaughton | Premier Guide Media