June 6th 2020 - Dr. Fred Buckhold, Dr. Elie Azrak, Dr. Cassandra Haddox, & Dr. Megan Renner

Health Matters
Friday, June 5th
Dr. FRED BUCKHOLD, SLU Care general internist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.  Dr. Buckhold tells us what summer activities he feels will be safe to attend -- now that stay at home restrictions are being relaxed.  What does he think about Missouri health officials say they have only seen one COVID-19 case linked to those big parties over the Memorial Day Weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks?  A new study finds 80-percent of the coronavirus cases were spread by 20-percent of those who are infected.  They are called the Super Spreaders -- who are they and can we figure out how to preemptively stop the spread from these people? What does Dr. Buckhold think about protesters and the pandemic?  And what advice does he have for protesters on how they can stay safe? Wear a mask, try to keep that 6 feet of distance, wash your hands.  Racial inequality he says is a big public health issue.

Dr. ELIE AZRAK, cardiologist at SSM Health DePaul Hospital.  A new study finds enlargement of one of the heart's four chambers -- the right ventricle -- is the best way to predict which patients with severe COVID-19 infections were the most likely to die.  Dr. Azrak says it means they need to take a closer look at the right ventricle of the heart in patients who have serious illness from coronavirus.  The purpose of the right side of the heart is to pump oxygen into the heart.  He says this gives insight into what might be going on when it comes to blood clots in those patients.  And what does it mean about the pressure applied by ventilators.  Dr. Azrak says it is critical to do a point of care ultrasound at the bedside of critical patients and then pay attention to how the right ventricle is performing.  Heart patients, he says, need to pay close attention to all those preventive measures that have been advocated -- wear a mask, wash your hands, keep six feet of separation.  And if you are having any kind of heart problems, Dr. Azrak says please call your doctor or go to the emergency room.

Dr. CASSANDRA HADDOX, director of the Emergency Department at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital. A new survey finds nearly half of those polled say someone in their family has skipped or delayed getting needed medical care during the coronavirus pandemic.  Dr. Haddox says she is definitely seeing this at St. Mary's -- where ER visits are down 40-50-percent. She says the danger of delaying care means the problem will only get worse -- and some conditions can only be reversed with prompt medical attention.  She tells listeners not to be afraid to go to the ER -- your risk of getting COVID-19 is very low.  Hospitals are now doing a great job, she says, in protecting everyone from possible transmission of the virus.  Everyone needs to wear a mask and patients are separated.  There's also a no visitor policy to keep everyone safe and limit possible exposure.  Same thing with mental health and substance abuse cases.  She says please go to the ER or the hospital if you feel like hurting yourself.  

Dr. MEGAN RENNER, family medicine physician with the SSM Health Medical Group in St. Charles County.Do you think you've gained weight over the past couple months of stay at home orders?  You're not alone.  It's called The Quarantine 15 -- all those pounds added during this pandemic.  Dr. Renner says we're not getting as much exercise as we used to -- due to gyms being closed.   And we are more sedentary -- binge watching tv shows, staying at home on the couch and eating a lot of comfort and junk food.  Alcohol consumption also adds pounds. Dr. Renner says being overweight is a risk factor for getting more serious cases of COVID-19 -- as it is for many other illnesses.  Dr. Renner says now is the time to take back control -- start a walking program, dust off those bikes, explore free workout videos online or start meal planning.  Also, try not to make your home office in your kitchen.