The town has Rock Chalk fever.
Lawrence doctors warn it’s contagious and, for the most part, healthy to have. But moderation is key.
Dr. Charles Yockey, a Lawrence Memorial Hospital pulmonologist and a diehard Kansas University fan, said as the team progresses its way through the bracket, the partying also progresses.
“People will drink more than they usually do, they will eat more snacks and salty foods, they smoke more cigarettes and drink more coffee — all of those are bad,” he said.
In preparation for Saturday’s Final Four matchup between KU and Ohio State, LMH has beefed up its emergency room staff. More patients are expected — win or lose.
“Intoxication and high-fiving vigorously results in dislocated shoulders. If we win Saturday, we will see at least two dislocated shoulders,” Yockey said. “If we lose, we will see at least two broken hands from people trying to pound their fist through the wall.”
Additionally, he said alcohol, salty snacks and stress are dangerous for anyone with high blood pressure or heart disease.
“People get so stressed that they have to leave the room. They want KU to win. They are afraid they’re going to lose. They don’t want to see the end,” Yockey said. “If it’s a close game, people get really emotional and really excited and the adrenaline flows and the alcohol flows. The snacks flow.”
Yockey said he doesn’t want to be a killjoy, but he has seen the ill effects of March Madness firsthand. In 1988, he saw 14 dislocated shoulders after the championship win.
His advice: moderation.
“Cheer on the ’Hawks. The sun will come up Sunday morning if we lose, and if we win, we will look forward to Monday night,” he said. “Keep it in perspective and have fun. Obviously, the people in Manhattan don’t have to worry about this.”
Dr. Marciana Vequist, a psychologist at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, said so far the tournament has been good for Jayhawk fans’ mental health because the team is winning and people are happy, excited and proud. There’s a lot more socialization and community spirit.
She also said fans aren’t crazy to have rituals and superstitions. In fact, she’s among them.
Vequist watches with a group of friends. She said last year, they had to eat certain foods, including chocolate almonds and apricots, sit in the same positions and wear certain clothes. Well, that didn’t work. So this year, they’ve vowed to change it up.
On Saturday, she might wear her a lucky black T-shirt that has “Kansas” on it in white lettering, or she might wear a new red Final Four shirt. She’s not sure.
“Most of us are having a lot of fun with it, but if you really feel that you are having some kind of impact on the team by something you are doing or not doing, you might want to look at that,” she said.
She said March Madness can be much like the holidays. If people suffer anxiety from socialization or are recovering from alcoholism, this time of year might not be so fun. For others, the time can be euphoric.
And if the team loses this weekend, she said that shouldn’t lead to depression or other mental illness unless there were already underlying symptoms.
KU fan Dr. Steven Bruner, a family practice physician, said there will be a letdown — win or lose. It may take him a week to recover.
“If we lose to Ohio State or Kentucky, everybody will regret it but nobody will be disappointed. I think nobody expected us to get this far,” he said.
“If we win, it’s like the day after Christmas. Christmas was great, but man it’s going to be a long time before Christmas again.”
Bruner, who has been a Jayhawk fan since 1976, said he doesn’t consider March Madness unhealthy unless there’s too much drinking and someone ends up getting hurt.
He could see where fans — including him — might eat too many unhealthy foods or not get enough sleep due to watching the late games.
“Fortunately, it’s only a couple nights of the year — or, OK, six,” he said, laughing.
If Jayhawk fans do suffer a fall or have chest pains during a game, they tend to avoid the hospital like the plague.
Dr. David Rios, a Lawrence cardiologist, said, “It’s funny nobody comes into the hospital during games, but there’s a bit of a rush afterward. They will tolerate their chest pains until the game is over, and then they will come in.”
The other problem is that his hospitalized patients want to go home whether they are ready or not. If they have to stay in the hospital, they have to watch the game — no tests or nurses are to interfere.
“Let me tell you, these Jayhawk fans are something else,” Rios said, laughing.
When Rios moved to Kansas in 1999, he was hellbent on not being a KU fan. He had lived in New York and was sick of hearing about the Jayhawks.
“I thought when I get to Kansas, there is no way,” he said. “They are always the favorite and they go on and on about the tradition. So, when you are not a fan — it’s like North Carolina and Duke — you just don’t want to hear it.”
Then, his son, Chris, attended several KU basketball camps and his Jayhawk spirit rubbed off.
"Before I knew it, I had drank the Kool-Aid and now I probably own more Jayhawk material than anybody, and I have no affiliation whatsoever. I have never gone to school here. But I own more Jayhawk stuff than most people,” he said, laughing.
Rios said he earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and was thrilled that his alma mater made the NCAA tournament this year for the first time since 1946.
“On my bracket, they were playing KU in the Final Four,” he said. “Needless to say, it didn’t happen but I had to go with my heart.”
Rios said he didn’t know of anyone who had suffered an actual heart attack during a game, but he’s sure there’s been some chest pains.
“I try to watch it by myself. I can’t watch it with too many people. I need to be able to yell at the TV and yell at the refs, and I turn the TV off when I think I’m causing bad luck by watching,” he said. “I didn’t use to be a fan, and now I’m completely consumed. I absolutely drank the Kool-Aid.”
Barbara Sufian was preparing lunch when she felt a sharp pain that radiated from her waist, up her back and to her right shoulder.
“I was right in the middle of heart attack and had no idea what was going on,” Sufian said of the Oct. 24 medical emergency.
With a sister who had a heart attack at age 41 and two brothers who underwent heart bypass surgery, Sufian said she was aware of the typical symptoms. But because Sufian didn’t feel any pain on her left side, she didn’t think it was a heart attack. And that almost cost the 62-year-old woman her life.
“Historically, we have been told if you are having a heart attack the pain goes up your arm on the left side to your neck and face,” Sufian said. “If I had one of those symptoms, I would have gone to the doctor.”
It’s only when she collapsed that she realized she might be having a heart attack and called 911.
She was taken by ambulance to Lawrence Memorial Hospital, where she had a second heart attack.
“I feel pretty fortunate to be alive,” Sufian said.
What Sufian didn’t know was that signs are different between men and women. According to the Women’s Heart Foundation, women wait longer to go to the emergency room during a heart attack, and physicians are slower to recognize that a heart attack is occurring because often the telltale signs of chest pains and EKG changes aren’t present. Each year more women than men die from heart disease. And, after having a heart attack, women are twice as likely to die within the first couple of weeks.
While heart disease is just as serious in women as it is in men, decades worth of research has been focused on men. One of the reasons is because a large national data set came from patients at veterans hospitals. And those hospitals overwhelming cared for male patients.
For both men and women, the most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. But the health organization warns that women are more likely than men to experience other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting or back or jaw pain. Women can also have pain in the arms, neck, jaw and stomach.
Women are beginning to recognize those differences, said Dr. Roger Dreiling, a cardiologist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
He pointed to a patient he saw over Thanksgiving. She was out taking a walk when she started feeling pain, but it wasn’t in her chest. She was 54, had no risk factors for heart disease, but knew women’s symptoms for heart attacks could be a bit different than men’s. So she went to the emergency room where an EKG showed she was having a heart attack.
Dreiling said it is more common for women to come in with angina, a pain or discomfort that occurs when the heart isn’t getting enough oxygen, than heart attacks. Angina occurs during everyday physical activities. The pain can show up in unexpected places, like the high back and even right elbow.
One of the reasons women may have a lower threshold for coronary heart disease than men is because their arteries are smaller, so it doesn’t take as much plaque to block them. And, one of the reasons they may have a tougher time recovering from a heart attack is that they are on average older. The average age for coronary heart disease in men is 56 or 57. For women it’s 10 years later.
Looking back, Sufian said she had warning signs even earlier than the day of her heart attack. During the previous two months, she would get a sharp pain in her shoulder while directing choir music for her church. But she just thought it was a sore muscle.
A 2003 report by the National Institutes of Health showed that 95 percent of the women studied often experienced new or different physical symptoms as much as a month before a heart attack. Those symptoms included unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety. All of those symptoms were more common than chest pains or discomfort.
Sufian’s recovery wasn’t an easy one. She spent three weeks at LMH and another two and half weeks at a rehabilitation center in Kansas City, Kan. She had two stents put in her heart and a pacemaker.
And there were complications along the way. At one point, her kidneys started shutting down, and she wasn’t taking any oxygen in. Her daughter began spreading word among friends and family that it was time to say their goodbyes.
“I just decided I wasn’t going to die. I was going to live. I was going to walk home,” Sufian said
.Last week Sufian arrived home, where she continues her recovery.
“Pay attention to your body,” she advises women. “If something says it’s not right, it probably isn’t.”
Health beat: School garden update, Koffee Korner opens, calcium topic of free LMH presentation, heart attack symptoms
It’s full steam ahead on school gardens
Nancy O’Connor, education and outreach coordinator at The Merc, provided me with an update on a few school garden projects that she is coordinating.
The West Junior High School garden will include fruit trees and small fruits this year! There also will be a strong spring garden — if Mother Nature cooperates — that will provide food for the cafeteria before summer break.
Congrats to T.J. Everett and Karen Schneck, who have been hired by The Merc to serve as mentor gardeners during the upcoming season. They were among six student gardeners last year. More students will be hired this spring after an application process.
The students also will be growing volume crops at a farm in Lone Star that is owned by Lynn Byczynski and Dan Nagengast.
There will be a new demonstration plot in front of The Merc, where students will be growing food and customers will be able to watch the progress.
There also will be new gardens at Hillcrest and Sunset Hill schools.
Produce from all of the gardens will be sold at weekly markets. O’Connor said they are planning to have two markets per week: one at WJHS and the other at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.
First, they need your help. They have scheduled work days for the gardens:
• WJHS — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 12; and 3 p.m. until dark Tuesday, March 15.
• Sunset Hill and Hillcrest — 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 2.
Interested volunteers should contact Lily Siebert at The Merc at 843-8544 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Koffee Korner is open for business
A coffee shop — Koffee Korner — opened Feb. 1 across from the gift shop at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
It is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and offers a variety of hot and iced coffees and other drinks. Its menu and prices are comparable to other coffee shops in town.
Kelly Woodson, manager and barista, said business has been good and they plan to offer baked goods and other snack items soon.
Dietitian to offer tips on calcium
Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s free Nutrition Roundtable series will focus on calcium this month.
Dietitian Patty Metzler will talk about how daily calcium intake patterns affect your health. She also will present creative ways to ensure a diet of sufficient calcium.
The roundtable will be:
• from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17.
• at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine.
Space is limited so advance registration is requested. To reserve a seat call LMH ConnectCare at 749-5800 or visit lmh.org.
Know the signs of heart attack
Heart attacks are the cause of about one in three heart disease deaths, and an estimated 78,000 adults in Kansas have had one.
Some are sudden and intense, but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort.
Often people don’t realize what’s wrong and wait too long before receiving help, according to Dr. Robert Moser, acting state health officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
In Kansas, more than half of heart disease deaths occur before reaching a hospital, clinic or medical center. Recognize the following signs and symptoms and call 911 immediately at the first sign of a heart attack:
• Chest pain or discomfort — Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
• Discomfort in other areas of the body — Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, shoulder, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
• Shortness of breath — May occur with or without chest discomfort.
• Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint — This may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or vomiting.
Lawrence resident Michelle Derusseau had a heart attack at 39. She shared her story during the Go Red For Women luncheon on Friday. She talked about how she didn’t recognize the symptoms until her arm went numb.
Dr. Michael Zabel, a cardiologist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, said the emergency room sees an uptick in patients with heart problems during wintry conditions.
He said any extreme temperature — hot or cold — puts a significant stress on the body, especially the cardiovascular system. When you add activities such as shoveling snow, it can cause problems from mild to severe.
He said the ER has had two heart attack patients since the first snowfall this season.
Shoveling snow is especially dangerous for anyone who has had treatment or surgery for heart disease.
“I am all for my heart patients being active, but that’s the wrong kind of activity. I don’t restrain my patients from doing very much, but shoveling snow is one of the very few things that I ask them to refrain from doing — almost universally," he said. "It’s just a horrible combination of bad weather and the wrong kind of exercise.”
Zabel provided a common scenario that happened Wednesday night:
A man was shoveling snow, began feeling chest discomfort, and was taken by ambulance to the ER. He had a history of heart disease and didn’t listen to his doctor’s recommendations. The man told Zabel that he was just “pushing” the snow and wanted to get it done. He was just a level below a heart attack.
Others at risk for heart disease are people with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history of heart disease and smokers.
The common warning signs of a heart attack are chest discomfort, unusual shortness of breath, light-headedness or blacking out. If the symptom is severe, call 9-1-1. If it’s mild, go inside and rest. If the symptom persists for more than five minutes, seek help.
Zabel said often people wait an hour or more to visit an emergency room.
“That’s way too long to wait,” he said.
HAVE A HEART-HEALTH QUESTION?
In recognition of American Heart Month in February, WellCommons is hosting two live chats at:
• 2 p.m. Thursday with Kirsten Flory, chairwoman of the Go Red for Women Luncheon & Expo., and Coeli Baker, of the American Heart Association.
• 1 p.m. Feb. 9 with Dr. Roger Dreiling, a Lawrence Memorial Hospital cardiologist.
You can submit questions at WellCommons.com/chats. Make sure to come back either during or after the chat to see if your questions were answered.
Also, WellCommons is encouraging anyone who has been touched by heart disease to share their story or tips on how to live a heart-healthy life. Winners will be chosen for a prize. For more details, visit WellCommons.com.
That's according to an article that Amy Norton wrote for Reuters Health about a five-year study published earlier this month in the American Journal of Cardiology.
It's never too late for smokers to do their hearts good by kicking the habit -- even after a heart attack has left them with significant damage to the organ's main pumping chamber, a new study suggests....
Smoking doesn't just affect your lungs. It messes up your arteries and heart, and leads to heart attacks in which the left ventricle -- the heart's main pumping area -- is damaged and can't pump blood as efficiently as it should.
....The researchers found that among 2,231 patients with LV dysfunction, those who quit smoking within six months of their heart attack were less likely to die within five years or suffer a repeat attack than smokers who continued the habit.
Here the link to the study in the American Journal of Cardiology.
The AHA says ideal cardiovascular health for adults is defined by these health measures:
1. Never smoked or quit more than a year ago 2. A healthy body mass index (BMI) 3. Physical activity, and the more the better 4. Blood pressure below 120/80. 5. Fasting blood glucose less than 100 milligrams/deciliter 6. Total cholesterol of less than 200 milligrams/deciliter 7. Eating a healthy diet
The AHA hopes the seven factors could improve the cardiovascular health of Americans by 20 percent by the year 2020, and also reduce deaths from cardiovascular-related diseases and strokes by 20 percent.