June 2008 - A Prominent Death
Perhaps many of you heard of the quite unexpected death of Tim Russert two weeks ago. Let me start by saying that all I know of his medical history is what I have read in the paper and heard in media reports. I do want to talk about it however because I think it applies to my patients who have had surgery or more importantly those of you who are still thinking about it.
If you are a regular reader of my newsletter then you know that several weeks ago I wrote about the “window of opportunity”. Essentially what I said was that if you have seen me in the office and are sitting on the fence about the surgery… please don’t! You may wake up one day and find you have missed your opportunity. You may find that now you are too sick or have too many medical problems to have an operation. The other reason I wrote about the window of opportunity is so that patients who have had the surgery will let other people know about the life saving benefits before it is too late. All of which brings me back to Tim Russert.
Mr. Russert was the moderator of “Meet the Press”. According to the reports I have read he was taking his blood pressure and cholesterol medicines, taking his daily aspirin, doing as much exercise as possible, and trying to lose weight. Despite all of that he died of a heart attack anyway, and he was only 58 years old. Mr. Russert had a son who had just graduated college this May… he had everything in the world to live for! I would assume that given his fame and celebrity Mr. Russert had access to the best medical care possible, and again despite it all he died of a heart attack.
Because Mr. Russert is famous we have all heard of what happened, unfortunately thousands of people in the United States die every week of the same condition that killed Mr. Russert but we never hear about it. It is true that the death rate from heart disease has declined, but it is still the leading cause of death in this country…650,000 people every year, over 10,000 people every single week of the year. Almost half of these people die suddenly without any real symptoms, just like Mr. Russert.
In reading thru the media reports it appears that Mr. Russert’s main risk factor for heart disease was obesity and perhaps high levels of triglycerides. His family history was apparently not that bad, he didn’t smoke and hischolesterol and blood pressure were apparently well controlled.
What is my point in all of this? PLEASE…Don’t miss the window of opportunity…don’t wait until you’ve had aheart attack, (you never know if you’ll get a second chance). I would also say that better than treating your high blood pressure and high cholesterol…don’t have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Better than treating your diabetes… don’t have diabetes. Better than treating your sleep apnea…don’t have sleep apnea. This is not just hype, many of you reading this now are walking examples of how this surgery can cure the conditions I just mentioned. Yes, you read that right, not treat or improve those conditions… but cure them. If you don’t have any of these conditions… great, loose the weight now and make sure you never get any of these conditions. Again please don’t miss the window of opportunity this life saving surgery affords.
“Knowledge is Power”
—Sir Francis Bacon
In good health,
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