THE HEART OF THE MATTER
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) 

Week: 534.5 Topic: News and Notes on...CPR on TV, Olean update, Big risk for the non-fit Host/Producer: Steve Girard

NEMA: Time to catch up on some of the health news and notes we've seen and heard recently.....

Another blurring of the truth or fiction line on television hospital shows...a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine includes a piece on how T.V. handles cardio pulmonary resuscitation. A report in the Washington Post says the study concludes that on shows such as Rescue 911, E.R. and Chicago Hope, CPR is shown done mainly on younger people...and they almost always survive the ordeal. The reality, according to the authors of the study, is that most people who go through CPR are older, and are having heart attacks. Only about 40 % of those who get CPR survive....on T.V., 75% of victims come out o.k....and most have no resulting disability, while in real life, that's not the case...the doctors said disability after cardiac arrest is more the norm. The doctors who wrote the study said the misrepresentation of CPR on television promotes a belief in miracles and undermines trust in data.

We talked about Olean recently....the artificial fat substitute Proctor and Gamble has developed over the years and plans to include in all kinds of foodstuffs...especially snack foods like chips, corn chips and cheese curls. Well, Colleen Pierre of the Baltimore Sun writes that P & G has been working vigorously to straighten out some of the product's problems....which have been stridently pointed out by folks like those at the Center for Science in the Public interest in Washington. The problems of the original Olean, or as it's also known, olestra, include the way it sped through our dietary system, producing gas and diarrhea...and that it seemed to take a slew of vitamins with it... A,D, E & K....and beta carotene to boot. The adjustments made by Proctor and Gamble seem to have lessened the adverse affects...but the bags of snacks fried in Olean must carry a label, warning consumers that use of the product could result in intestinal distress similar to that caused by food high in fiber, like beans and bran....and the snacks must contain vitamins to replace those lost trying to digest the fat substitute, though the beta carotene will not be replaced. So, while some try to get the Food and Drug Administration to withdraw its approval of Olean, its developer and producer continues to refine the product, hoping to help people reduce their fat intake and make a return on the years of effort and money that went into Olean. Lesson learned here: Don't count on one product to work a diet miracle for you by letting you eat extravagantly without the fat...continue to use common sense in crafting your diet. We'll keep you posted on Olean. On a similar front, we have a report coming your way soon on dexfenflouramine, the new drug that may prove to be a boon to those who have tried, and failed to keep weight off after a diet.

A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association relates the results of a study on low fitness as a large risk factor for premature death...putting it on par with smoking. The study, according to the New York Times, was conducted by Dr. Steven Blair of the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research in Dallas. ..with information taken from the continuing Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. That work is following more than 32 thousand men and women, and determining the health consequences of their activities and fitness levels. Dr. Blair's study indicates that smokers who had high blood pressure and high cholesterol were still likely to live longer than non-smokers who do not exercise. According to the report, smokers who were very fit had a 15 % lower death rate than non-smokers who were not physically fit but had no other risk factors. The Times report says the study also shows that men who were the least fit were one and a half times more likely to die as men who were the most fit....and provides more evidence that people can lengthen their lifespan with just moderate exercise. That concurs with the recent recommendation from the Surgeon General that urges moderate exercise as an element of good health.

Thanks for joining us, I'm Steve Girard.