From weight loss tips to insomnia cures, Dr. Oz tackles the real-life problems that haunt most North Americans every week day on The Dr. Oz Show, which airs at 2pm E.T. on CTV in Canada. Today, Dr. Oz sits down with Rosie O’Donnell for her first ever interview since her terrifying heart attack. This is an episode no woman should miss. Rosie and Dr. Oz discuss everything from how she managed to save her own life to 5 warnings signs that every woman needs to look out for before it’s too late. We had the chance to talk to Dr. Oz about his sit down with Rosie, the one question he’s always asked and the person he’d most like to have on the show.
Was there anything in your interview with Rosie O’Donnell that surprised you or you didn’t expect?
Rosie’s a very insightful person and one of the reasons that I’ve taken more celebrity interviews this year than I have in the past is [because] they trust us to have a real conversation that allows them to provide a service, but also they have unique insights often, and feel like they’ve worked out stuff. They’re not smarter than everybody else; they just have had a lot more focused on them, so they spend a lot more thinking about the things they do.
I was stunned by how she went through the symptoms that she had, which in retrospect, are pretty typical for a woman having a heart attack. Men have different kinds of symptoms, and yet she ignored and ignored them the way any other woman would. She ignored them because she didn’t want to bother the family with having to deal with her issues. She didn’t ignore them because she had more important things she needed to deal with on her calendar.
It’s a very soulful conversation, very emotional when she talks about how she almost died because she ignored these weird pains, the shortness of breath, the dizziness, the nausea, all this stuff. And when her kids were saying, you know, you look like you’re a ghost, you’re so pale, so was still holding out. She was putting ice packs on herself to cool herself down. And she’s trying to reconcile all these crazy symptoms and at the middle of all that there’s this little whispering voice that said, “take an aspirin because had seen a commercial when she was a kid and she took the aspirin.”
In the course of her interview, it became very emotional when she began to talk about how she ignored these, what that meant about how she viewed her life, how women view their lives often the same way. And the reason she decided to come out and talk about – because the hard thing is she hasn’t talked to anybody so far – it was with the earnest desire to help people not die.
I’ll share something with you: The first thing we do when a woman comes in to an autopsy suite who’s passed away suddenly is we look in their stomach. And you know what we’re looking for anybody? The first thing we look for is to see if there’s Pepto-Bismol or antacids in their stomach. And we do that because we know that women often will have indigestion as their first sign of a heart attack and if they have Pepto-Bismol in their belly, it means they were ignoring the symptoms that were warning them they were about to die, so they died.
Wow, that’s interesting. Now, did you give her any recommendations?
Yes, I did. I spent a lot of time talking to her about things she should be able to do in her own life, tips that I think will value – benefit not just here but people who watch the show. And again, our goal is – at a big level, Oprah is the face of heart disease for women in American now and she will be probably for the rest of her live.
Sometimes these moments occur that just provide an obvious teachable moment and this is it. And every woman in America from now on when they’re having these weird symptom that they hear about on Thursday that women classically have, different kinds of pain that men have. Different kinds of issues like fatigue and dizziness as opposed to classic male symptoms, they’re going to be thinking, “Okay, I have this symptom, it’s a common symptom of other things too. Could it be a heart attack?” Well, Rosie ignored, I better deal with it.
Then when they go to the hospital, women will leave the show knowing they’re not going to go in there saying, “You know, I feel like I got a little thing here and there. They’re not going to downplay their symptom. They’re going to go in there and say, “Rosie had a heart attack with symptoms like mine. Could I have a heart attack?” That’s a very loud wake up call to all the doctors in the emergency room to really pay attention to his women. Because one the doctor hears that word heart attack, we think sudden death. So we can’t put you on the back burner and get back to you in a couple hours.
How you would recommend treating grief?
Grief’s very common. We’re supposed have grief moments in our life. One of the big mistakes we make with grief, just thinking that it has an expiration date. That you should stop grieving after X number of months or in years. It doesn’t work that way. I think many people live with grief their whole life.
I was talking to a friend yesterday who’s lost both of his siblings. He’s a young guy and I thought how weird it is to lose both of your siblings that you grew up with and so you’re sort of left alone. And he will always grieve, that will always be a part of his life.
That stated, there are syndromes that happen when you have grieving that are harmful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve operated on one person and then had their spouse collapse in the waiting room and have to operate on them. It’s not rare and we know that the chance of dying increases dramatically when people who have been married for many years lose a spouse. So, this sudden – this broken heart syndrome, which was studied by the Hopkins Group several years ago, happens because as the hormones surge during grief — they literally slow down the ability of the heart to function and there ensuing heart failure. It leads to irregular heartbeats and sudden death… You die of a broken heart. It’s not just that metaphorical sign. In fact, the heart, which is our most poetic organ, is so for a reason because it speaks to us in so many different ways.
So, what has always helped humans deal with grief? Well, without question, the most important thing we’ve used is each other. We support each other; we provide tools to allow each other to have a safety net. That’s way, if I can shift gears for a second, the financial stress, which if you look at the top 10 things that drive stress in our lives seven are financial. And so these financial stressor as a huge hit. So, I have data, for example, on bankruptcy. People who have bankruptcy in their life die, on average, seven years earlier than people who don’t. But, if you have loved ones around you who can provide that safety net that I spoke to and help you through the difficult time, your loss of life is measured in months, not years. So the ability for us to come together to help someone who’s grieving is the single most important thing we can do.
Who’s the one person that you’d love to have on your show that hasn’t been on yet?
That’s an interesting question. There are a couple people that I want to have on but for different reasons. I want to have Paul McCartney on because I want to talk to him about meditation, which has been such an important part of his life. And I’m trying to understand how the creative forces and how his ability to go through the good and bad in his life has changed and he was there at the very beginning. So he, you know, he was part of the reason that meditation and yoga came to the North – to North American, so I’d love to hear his perspective on how it’s changed the world and how it’s changed him. And I’m actually optimistic one day we’ll get him but I just haven’t been able to do it yet. But we have a lot of other great folks. Having Rosie come on and talk about her heart attack was an absolute dream for me because I’m always searching for those iconic moments when you create an event that will forever define a process. And heart attack’s the number one killer of women, they’ve never had a female spokesperson. There’s never been any – if you think I your own minds, who – what woman out there represents heart disease in America. And there – unfortunate reality is, there aren’t any for reasons that are unknown to me but it’s reality. So, to fill that important slot in, so that now Rosie represents that and speak to that and help women appreciate that it could be you and she does it so tastefully, that was a dream come true.
Is Rosie saying now that she’s going to really work on her physical health and lose the weight that she seems to have packed on in recent years? And in your opinion, is that one of her issues?
It is – without question. Weight is the number one reversible risk factor for heart problems in America. It’s also probably the number one reversible risk factor for cancer. And she does have that issue and she knows it and what makes her such a wonderful spokesperson, besides the fact that she’s willing to expose herself, which I do want to pay her tribute for because that takes a lot. But, she knows it’s a problem and she knows how hard it is to fix it. See, as a doctor, I’m sitting in my office where I talk to people all day long and I spend most of the time saying to please lose weight. So, they know that already. So, I’m not educating them by telling them to lose weight. The reality is they have all kinds of reasons why the can’t lose with. Some of them are biological, there’s a biology of blubber. It’s makes it more difficult for some people to lose weight than others. It’s why their ancestors, you know, whether the, you know, that the Siberian Tundra or wherever our ancestors came from, because they were able to accumulate belly fat. But there are other reasons why we stay heavy. The emotional ones are a major driver and Rosie really, really has a grasp of that and she changed my life by the way she helped me understand some of these realities. And there are many that we’ll talk about in the show, but she appreciates why women like her can’t lose weight and why people like me can’t help sometimes because I’m sitting in my office giving you a bunch of lectures about stuff. I don’t deal with the real reasons why you’re struggling. So she articulates those.
You said that some of your best advice is to show up in life. And I was just wondering if this was philosophy that was handed down to you and would you mind sharing with the readers what exactly it means to you in your life?
Showing up in life is a way of describing the reality that many of us do things not going a 100%, not going full speed, not as passionate and zealous about things as we should be. And if you’re going be good at something you better love it because if you don’t do it with a kind of gusto that someone who loves something does things then you won’t be the best at it. And I asked my kids whether it’s taking the trash out or playing sports with me or studying on their own or sometimes I’ll play the piano and have them sing just to torture them because I’m always looking for excuses to bond with that them. That whatever they do, they have to do fully and if they don’t, I’ll say you’re not showing up in life because it’s not the days that you live, it’s days you remember that count. If you can create of those memorable days because you really went all out, whether you win or lose is almost irrelevant. It’s that you went full speed and felt what that exhilaration meant.
You did a show with the biophotonic scanner that measures the level of body’s antioxidants. How important do you feel that antioxidants are to fighting cancer and even just somebody’s overall heath?
Antioxidants in many ways are the fountain of youth. We actually have two shows this week, one tomorrow who’s call, “The Fountain of Youth” one on Friday is “The Five Ways to Avoid Aging” and antioxidants will come up in both those programs. Antioxidants are needed to prevent to rusting of the body, so if I can just take you two seconds through this. Normally to kill of bacteria and viruses and other bad things, cancer cells, in our body we have oxidants. We create these torpedoes that destroy these things we don’t want in our body. If you have too many of these torpedoes you end with friendly fire destroying your own cells.
Oxidation is this rusting process happens because of natural desires to kill of bacteria, et cetera, but also because you eat the wrong kind of food, fried foods in particular, you’re exposed to too much sun, radiation, toxins in the environment – a whole bunch of things cause that. If you can manage oxidation correctly, if you can limit its damage to your body, you’ll look better, feel better and live longer.
Most of the things we tell you to do like eating leafy green vegetables or frankly any colourful food that’s naturally coloured, they all – the reason they have those colours in them – the red of the peppers, the yellow of the lemon, the green of the arugula – the reason they have those colours is because that’s how they protect themselves from sun. And those colors are all antioxidants; they all prevent damage from sunlight. So, when you eat those foods you get them. So, things like vitamins and the like are espoused because they give you more of the antioxidants you need to prevent the internal rusting that otherwise would damage you.
Oxidation is critically important as a byproduct in cancers, when you have too much of it, you rust away damaged cells that leads to cancers when they make mistakes fixing themselves. It’s a major driver of hardening of the arteries, which leads to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, impotence, even skin wrinkles. All that comes back down to this basic antioxidant reality, which is why, crazy as it is, the one area that most of us think makes a lot of sense is aspirin because although aspirin thins the blood, which is nice for heart attacks. That’s how Rosie saved her life by chewing on an aspirin; it’s also a very potent antioxidant that prevents aging.
I advise anyone over the age of 40 [to take] two baby aspirin a day unless you have a very clear contraindication.
Why is it that people aren’t literally just stuffing themselves full of antioxidant rich foods like constantly?
People don’t change based on what they know; they change based on how they feel. So if I can get you to wake up, if I can get Rosie to become aware that those foods will prevent further rusting of our arteries and reduce gestating cancer, she’ll do it. So now, she gets that message and she’s doing it.
You need to have people going out there spreading the word in a way that people need to hear it, because if you look at people who are wondering around happy go lucky and enjoying themselves, eating the right things, losing weight, feeling good – they’re one camp. You’ve got a lot of people going the opposite direction and the people who are in the opposite direction don’t realize that whenever you walk into a grocery store, you’re walking into a pharmacy. These are powerful nutrients and they not just nice things to do when you have a chance. They are the foundation of your long-term health.
What’s the most common health question that you’re asked?
The most common question I actually get asked is, “How do I lose weight?” But there are lots of other questions that I think people want to ask and they sort of ask it in a more private setting. I get asked a lot of questions about physical intimacy. It guest asked questions about, “Am I nuts? I’ve got this quirk.” So those are more private versions, but the most public question is, “I’m overweight. I can’t lose weight. What do I do about it?” And we have so many answers that help that I could probably just do that one topic all year long and be just fine. But I think, you know, for the benefit of people who are not overweight, it makes sense to do a lot of shows that are not on that topic, so we do.
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Photo Courtesy of: CTV