Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …
Don’t laugh. That would be callous and rude.
Oh, the irony. Here are some quotes from an online article in the Dallas News:
The president of the Dallas-based American Heart Association is recovering after suffering a minor heart attack Monday morning at the organization’s scientific conference in California.
The president of the AHA not only suffers a heart attack, he has the comic timing to do it at an AHA scientific conference. That almost tops all the times Al Gore showed up to give a speech on global warming just as the host city experienced a record-cold day.
John Warner, a cardiologist, vice president and CEO of UT Southwestern University Hospitals, was in stable condition with his family by his side at a California hospital. Doctors inserted a stent to open an artery, the association said in a prepared statement.
Dr. Warner is 52 years old – i.e., seven years younger than yours truly. Out of curiosity, I looked up the average age for a first heart attack among American males. It’s 66. The president of the AHA had his 14 years younger than the average.
The American Heart Association explained it this way in a tweet:
Sending all our love and support to American Heart president Dr. Warner as he recovers from a mild heart attack. Heart disease can strike anyone, at any time. That’s why we keep fighting.
Yeah, that’s one explanation. Another explanation is that the AHA’s advice for avoiding heart disease just plain sucks. That’s how I’d put. Dr. William Davis (also a cardiologist) employed a more professional tone in a post on his Wheat Belly blog:
I am hoping that, now that this disease has touched you personally, your eyes will be opened to the corrupt and absurd policies of conventional coronary care and the American Heart Association. Your life, after all, may be at stake in coming years. Contrary to the self-serving Tweet from AHA staff to you, heart attack risk is 1) quantifiable, 2) trackable, 3) stoppable and reversible.
American Heart Association officials should read their own studies.
Perhaps Dr. Warner could have avoided a heart attack if he and other AHA officials checked their own data and studies before issuing dietary advice. The AHA has tunnel vision when it comes to cholesterol. They keep insisting that lowering LDL is the key to a healthy heart. But as I pointed out in a 2010 post, data available on their own web site says otherwise:
People with “high” LDL make up 32.6% of the population, but account for just 27.9% of the heart attacks … We’ve been told for decades that the higher your LDL, the more likely you are to clutch your chest in the middle of the night. But if the “high” LDL group experiences slightly less than their share of heart attacks, how can that possibly be true?!
And here’s the conclusion from a study recently published in one of the AHA’s own journals:
Stepwise higher concentrations of nonfasting triglycerides were associated with stepwise higher risk of heart failure; however, concentrations of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were not associated with risk of heart failure in the general population.
Higher LDL wasn’t associated with heart failure. But higher triglycerides – which are produced by high-carb foods like the hearthealthywholegrains! the AHA recommends — were associated with heart failure.
Boy, I bet the AHA’s scientific council members nearly had a heart attack when they read that. No, wait …
NuVal is NoVal.
If Dr. David Katz weren’t such an arrogant jackass, I’d almost feel sorry for him. Talk about a rough couple of months. First the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine declared that the USDA’s dietary guidelines (which Dr. Katz insisted are “excellent and supported by the weight of the evidence”) aren’t based on good science.
And now there’s this, as recounted in a press release by the National Consumers League:
The National Consumers League (NCL) has welcomed news that a supermarket-based nutritional scoring system of food products called NuVal, which at its peak was used in 1,600 grocery stores nationwide, has been discontinued.
NuVal, as you may recall, was the brainchild of Dr. Katz. The nutrition scoring was so back-asswards, it gave sugar-laden soy milk a higher nutrition rating than a chicken breast, as I explained in a 2010 post.
Back to the NCL release:
“The NuVal rating system was fatally flawed, and its removal from grocery store shelves is a win for consumers,” said National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “Its proprietary algorithmic formula – which was not made transparent to consumers or the scientific community – resulted in snack chips, soft drinks, and desserts being given as high or higher nutritional scores than some canned fruits and vegetables. We welcome the news that NuVal has been discontinued nationally.”
My guess is that the “proprietary algorithmic formula” was never made public because it consisted of Dr. Katz just making @#$% up as he went along … kind of like when he reviewed his own novel under a fake name and compared himself to Milton and Chaucer.
This is why Katz is hostile to the wisdom-of-crowds idea. He thinks we should stop sharing information and experiences in the “echo chamber” online and simply listen to (ahem) “experts” like him – and the president of The American Heart Association, of course.
Birthday Bash a Bust.
I turned 59 on Tuesday. I’d been looking forward to that birthday for months … not because 59 is a significant number, but because it was also the 20th anniversary of my first date with Chareva.
For those of you who haven’t heard the story, we met at an acting school in Chicago. I was 38, and she was 24 and just home from the Peace Corps. I was smitten, but figured the age difference was too great. I remember staring across the room at her during an improv class and thinking, “Damn. If only I were 10 years younger.”
She took a few Microsoft Office training classes at a Manpower office where I was a part-time trainer, and some female co-workers finally talked me into asking her out. They insisted she was as attracted to me as I was to her. A woman can tell, etc., etc. I finally got over my hesitations and asked her to dinner and a play on my 39th birthday. The rest is history.
Anyway, I’d planned on celebrating the anniversary with a big night out. Nice expensive meal, good bottle of wine and all that. The shoulder surgery put the kibosh on my plans. I can’t drink because of the painkillers, and I didn’t relish the idea of ordering a prime rib, then watching Chareva lean across the table to cut it into pieces for me. So we postponed the big night out to an unspecified future date.
Instead, she made a Fat Head pizza at home. Pretty good stuff, even if I am a bit embarrassed that people call it Fat Head pizza, since I had nothing to do with creating it. All I did was post the recipe.
For my birthday present to myself, I bought this:
I expect the surgeon will give me the green light to do leg presses at the gym soon. But full workouts are out of the question for several months. Same goes for heavy-duty farm work. If I don’t get enough exercise, I tend to start feeling lethargic, so I figured I can at least put in some long walks on the treadmill while I’m waiting the shoulder and bicep to fully heal.
As you may have noticed, the treadmill is strategically placed to allow for watching movies and football games while I walk.
In the meantime, I’ve graduated from the recliner to a makeshift desk. For the first 10 days or so after surgery, I was only comfortable leaning back in the recliner, so I worked with a laptop on my thighs. With the sling keeping my elbow pinned to my side, I can’t reach a keyboard on my desk – my chair doesn’t raise high enough.
But I have an IKEA table in my office than can be lowered quite a bit, so Chareva lowered it for me. At the current height, it looks like a table for a toddler. But it allows me to position a laptop pretty much on my lap, with an inch of tabletop separating my thighs and the keyboard. It ain’t much, but getting myself out of the recliner for my programming job feels like progress.
I just try to avoid looking out my office window at the lovely autumn weather and thinking how much I’d love to be out there splitting wood or playing some disc golf.
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