August 8th 2020 - Dr. Fred Buckhold, Dr. Aaron Tang, Dr. Stephanie Schnepp, & Nancy Jackson

Health Matters
Friday, August 7th
Dr. FRED BUCKHOLD, SLU Care general internist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Dr. Buckhold says new coronavirus cases are holding steady in the region.  But he is still concerned about testing and PPE shortages.  Dr. Buckhold says a lot of the tests out there aren't up to their standards.  Also having trouble getting equipment to do the tests -- like nasal swabs.  Very frustrating.  CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta lists five keys to reversing the surge -- wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, avoiding close indoor gatherings like bars, avoid large crowds and wash your hands often.  Dr. Buckhold agrees with these five tips and says if we did this in a large way over three to four weeks, we could turn this around.  Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis has been diagnosed with COVID-19 -- his only symptom he says was a low grade fever.  Dr. Buckhold says that's not surprising since so many people are asymptomatic.  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tells residents it is okay to hug your elderly loved one -- IF you are wearing PPE.  Dr. Buckhold is leery about that -- saying he'd prefer to take his advice from a trained medical professional, not a politician.   

Dr. AARON TANG, cardiologist with the SSM Health Medical Group in St. Charles County.  An increase is being seen in what's called Broken Heart Syndrome during this pandemic.  Broken Heart Syndrome -- or stress cardiomyopathy -- mirrors a heart attack except there is no evidence of clogging of the arteries to lead to the chest discomfort.  Induced by a large stress -- like the loss of a family member.  It happens in 1 to 2% of the time for heart attack patients.  But Dr. Tang says he's seen several cases lately -- including one woman last week who came in with chest pains after suffering high emotional stress at home -- but no evidence of heart trouble.  Most of these patients recover, says Dr. Tang, but in rare cases it can be fatal.  Dr. Tang also says he's worried that people still fear going to the hospital if they are having heart pain -- out of fear of picking up COVID-19.  Dr. Tang says don't worry about that.  Hospitals and ERs are very safe these days.  Dr. Tang also addresses concerns that cardiologists have about athletes trying to come back from COVID-19.  He says they are worried about extreme stress placed on the heart during recovery and a return to peak performance. Dr. Tang says all people recover from COVID-19 on their own timeline.  

Dr. STEPHANIE SCHNEPP, breast surgeon and medical director of the SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital Breast Center. The coronavirus pandemic is causing some women to skip their mammogram and not pay close enough attention to their breast care.  Dr. Schnepp says that's really dangerous and can lead to serious complications down the road.  She says a lot of little cancers may have been missed be caught due to the pandemic.  Dr. Schnepp says women should not fear going into the doctor's office for a mammogram anymore -- all kinds of safety precautions are now being taken -- including masks, limiting visitors, patient screening ahead of time with temperature checks, getting people checked in quickly and efficiently, plexiglass barriers, one entrance and one exit.  Does having breast cancer affect your risk for getting COVID-19?  She says it depends on the type of treatment you are getting.  Chemo patients have a higher risk for infection -- and special precautions must be taken -- including maybe not going back to the office right now.

NANCY JACKSON, lead stroke program coordinator at SSM Health DePaul Hospital.  Another big concern during this pandemic -- an increase in stroke patients seeking medical care.  Jackson says some people who are experiencing stroke symptoms are nervous about going to the hospital and are staying away. Unfortunately, she says many patients aren't coming in when the symptoms first start - but three or four days later -- when the opportunities to treat them are less successful.  Stroke symptoms include weakness on one side, speech can be slurred or garbled, smile may be crooked -- facial droop -- sometimes dizziness and some people lose part of their vision.  All of this, she says, comes on suddenly.  If you experience any of these -- call 911 right away and get to the hospital -- preferably a stroke certified hospital.  To minimize your risk of stroke, don't smoke, watch your diet and cholesterol, keep your blood pressure under control, keep up with your medicine, keep your diabetes under control.  Jackson also addresses the relationship between COVID-19 and strokes and blood clots.