HealthWeek No. 129
ANNOUNCER: Funding for HealthWeek is provided by the
Howard Heinz Endowment and the Teresa and H. John Heinz III
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Today on
HealthWeek... noise. There's no escaping it. What the din may be
doing to your ears, and what you can do about it.
He lives in Boston, and she lives hundreds of miles away. So what
could this man do when his mother needed help?
RICHARD GILMAN: "It's very
frightening all the way around. It's frightening for her and it's
frightening for you as a child to see that."
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Meeting
the challenge of long-distance care.
And... giddy-up! How horses are taking some people on a ride to
Hello. I'm Sharyl Attkisson. Welcome to HealthWeek.
We begin with news
about eating for a healthy heart. There's no question that with all
the pizza, burgers and ice cream out there, the average American
diet is too high in artery-clogging fat. A lot of us are trying to
resist temptation and cut down on the fat. But how low should we go?
In our Behind the Headlines segment, we look at a surprising new
study provoking debate over whether drastic reductions in fat are
really necessary to protect your heart. HealthWeek's Andrew Holtz
has more from San Francisco.
MRS. REITERMAN: "We're
having some fat-free black bean chili."
ANDREW HOLTZ: After three
heart operations, Milt Reiterman, with his wife's help, is on the
warpath against fat.
Along with other lifestyle changes, he's adopted a radically
low-fat diet: no meat, no chicken, no nuts. Only 10% of calories
from fat. He's lost more than 40 pounds.
MILT REITERMAN: I've never
looked at this in terms of a weight reduction program. It's a
program so that I can live better and feel better.
ANDREW HOLTZ: The force
behind the program is Dr. Dean Ornish, a best selling author who
preaches that radical fat restrictions help heal diseased hearts.
DEAN ORNISH, MD, UNIV OF CALIFORNIA
SAN FRANCISCO: This ancient intervention could stop, and
in many cases even reverse, the progression of disease.
ANDREW HOLTZ: It's not
always easy sticking to a diet with only 10% fat, especially if
you're going to eat out. Now the latest study on diet and
cholesterol suggests going to low-fat extremes may do more harm than
ROBERT KNOPP, MD: The main
point is that people don't have to go to all that effort.
ANDREW HOLTZ: The study's
lead author, Dr. Robert Knopp, speaking this week at a meeting of
the American Heart Association, says low fat is good, but too low
may be unnecessary.
ROBERT KNOPP, MD, UNIV OF WASHINGTON
SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: If people will simply undertake a
moderate fat restriction, a moderate saturated fat restriction in
their diet, they will get as much benefit as a more extreme diet.
ANDREW HOLTZ: The study in
the current Journal of the American Medical Association, involved
more than 400 men with high cholesterol.
One fourth of the men ate a 30% fat diet, the type recommended by
most health experts. The rest were put on more restrictive diets.
The researchers found that men on the lowest fat diets fared no
better in terms of weight or cholesterol than those on the 30% fat
What's more, the men who ate the least fat showed changes in
cholesterol and blood fats that could signal an increased risk of
Dr. Ornish, whose program also includes meditation and exercise,
rejects the study's conclusions, in part because it didn't look at
whether the patients actually developed heart disease.
DEAN ORNISH, MD: I feel
profoundly disturbed by the article, because I think it sends all
the wrong messages to people.
ANDREW HOLTZ: One message
Ornish and Knopp agree on is that for most Americans the problem is
still too much fat, not too little.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: There
have been a lot of stories about heart disease in the news this
week, all coming from that meeting of the American Heart Association
in Florida. Doctor David Meyerson of the Heart Association is here
to talk about some of them.
We heard about fat and the controversy about that. What about
exercise? There's some new findings in that area regarding exercise
and the heart.
DAVID MEYERSON, MD, AMERICAN HEART
ASSOCIATION: Well, there is no controversy that all
exercise is good. But we're finding now that the frequency of
activity is a little bit more important than how intense and how
long you exercise. The best benefit came in men who exercised
between 11 and 24 minutes each session, but if they did it four or
five times a week, they had a 45 or 50 percent reduction in heart
disease. So, exercise often, exercise and enjoy it. Do something
happy. Do something that make
SHARYL ATTKISSON: If all
you can manage is to muster up short amounts of exercise, but
frequently, that's good.
DAVID MEYERSON, MD: It's
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Okay.
Another item in the news was about a cholesterol-lowering drug, and
that that may help even people who are healthy and don't have high
cholesterol. That seemed to imply that those of us that don't have a
cholesterol problem should consider taking the drug anyway as a
safety. Is that true?
DAVID MEYERSON, MD: Ten
times more women die of heart disease than do of breast cancer. Half
the people in our population will die of heart and blood vessel
disease. So, this is really serious business. If you are at high
risk, if your doctor, if you're diabetic, if you have a positive
family history, if you've had heart disease, if you've had bypass,
if you have a high predilection in your family for having this, do
not look away from these drugs called the Statins. They're a
wonderful group of medic
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Okay,
for those of us who have no indicators that we are especially high
risk and we're just thinking about it, is this something we should
DAVID MEYERSON, MD: If
you're not diabetic and have no family history and you're a young
person, allow your doctor to help get you to the point whether or
not you're at high risk. If you think you're at high risk, talk to
your doctor. You should not be starting these medicines by yourself
if you can get them or for no reason at all.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Dr.
David Meyerson, thanks so much.
DAVID MEYERSON, MD:
NANCY SNYDERMAN, MD: Hello, I'm Doctor Nancy Snyderman
with this week's Healthful Hint.
Your mother probably warned you that you'd ruin your eyesight if
you read in the dark. While Mom was wrong about dim light
permanently hurting your vision, it is one of the things that can
lead to temporary eyestrain.
Besides finding a good lamp, keep your reading material at least
12 inches away from your eyes. And take a break from reading every
20 minutes or so to give your eyes a rest.
Simply blinking keeps your eyes wet and clears away dust. Try to
blink more often when you feel your eyes getting tired.
And if you want to help your eyes and beautify your home at the
same time, try adding a few house plants. Plants increase the air's
humidity which is good for your eyes.
You can also use warm tea made from the flowers of the Eyebright
plant to banish eyestrain. You don't drink this herbal tea, but soak
a towel in it and then place the towel over your eyes for ten
Finally, poor eyesight can also lead to eyestrain. So, if you
have glasses, remember to wear them.
With Healthful Hints, I'm Doctor Nancy Snyderman.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: It could be loud fireworks on the
Fourth of July or a screaming crowd at a football game. All that
noise could be taking a toll on your hearing without you even
noticing until it's too late. You'll want to listen, as HealthWeek's
Pat Anson tells what too much noise can do to your ears.
PAT ANSON: The sights and
sounds of a city... San Francisco, in this case, but it could be
anywhere. Wherever people go, there's bound to be noise. Noise is so
pervasive, we often lose track of how much there is, and how loud it
AUDIOLOGIST: "How's the
level of that?
GREG HOLM: "I can't
understand a word they're saying."
PAT ANSON: Over 20 million
Americans suffer some degree of hearing loss. Many don't even
realize they have a hearing problem.
ROBERT SWEETOW, PhD: Very
common will we get somebody coming in and they'll say to us, well, I
hear great, everyone around me is mumbling.
PAT ANSON: Audiologist
Robert Sweetow says too many people take their hearing for granted,
putting their ears through a daily obstacle course that often leads
ROBERT SWEETOW, PhD, UNIV OF
CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO: You can either lose hearing
because of an explosion or some kind of an acoustic trauma, a single
incident. Or the more common is that you're going to lose hearing
over a long period of exposure to noise.
PAT ANSON: Hearing occurs
when sound waves pass through the outer and middle ear to the inner
ear or cochlea.
Inside the cochlea, sound waves cause tiny hair cells to move,
triggering electrical impulses to the brain.
Sudden or prolonged loud noise can damage these delicate hairs,
disrupting electrical impulses and causing hearing loss.
Environmental hearing loss usually isn't noticed until we reach
our fifties, but it can strike at any age.
Seventeen-year-old Willie Gregory learned that the hard way. At
age 13, just a year after he started playing bass guitar in a band,
Willie noticed loud music hurt his ears.
WILLIE GREGORY: We'd stop
playing and it was just the ringing sometimes would be so loud that
it would like drown out other noises.
PAT ANSON: Willie now has
trouble hearing high frequency sounds -- the most common type of
WILLIE GREGORY: If someone
whispers, I can hear the whisper itself, but I can't understand what
PAT ANSON: Someone who
suffers a high frequency hearing loss often has trouble hearing
speech in crowded, noisy environments. It sounds a little like this.
Low frequency sounds become dominant and speech distorted.
Consonants are especially hard to hear.
GREG HOLM: I still hear
the noise of the person speaking, I just don't understand what the
PAT ANSON: As a fire
fighter, Greg Holm is exposed to loud noise on almost a daily basis.
Years before hearing protection was required in the fire service,
Greg would race to emergency scenes with air horns and sirens
blasting in his ears.
All that noise ruined his hearing, but it took a long time for
Greg to admit he had a serious problem.
GREG HOLM: It was
extremely scary. I was afraid, number one, to admit that I had
something wrong with me. Number two, I thought hearing loss might
jeopardize my career.
PAT ANSON: Such fears
often stop people from wearing a hearing aid.
ROBERT SWEETOW, PhD:
There's just a stigma about aging and hearing loss is often the gold
standard for aging.
PAT ANSON: Doctors are
hoping much of that stigma will fade now that President Clinton has
been fitted with a hearing aid.
RODNEY PERKINS, MD, STANFORD UNIV
SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: The baby boomers are hitting 51, the
vanguard first ones this year, and I think that this bulge in the
population over the next decade will mean a lot larger numbers of
hearing devices that will be dispensed.
PAT ANSON: Doctor Rodney
Perkins heads the California Ear Institute, which has pioneered the
development of hearing aid technology.
Perkins says high-tech digital devices will revolutionize an
industry long dominated by analog hearing aids.
RODNEY PERKINS, MD: An
analog device is a device that has a rather continuous wave function
to it. And a digital device is one that takes that wave, breaks it
up into individual bits of information and then puts those bits of
information back together.
PAT ANSON: Greg Holm
recently switched to a digitally programmed hearing aid.
GREG HOLM: All of a
sudden, clarity improved. It just improved and it was adjustable to
my hearing loss and programmed for that loss.
PAT ANSON: The downside to
digital hearing aids is that they're more expensive, about $2,000 a
piece, twice the cost of many analog devices.
AUDIOLOGIST: "You can
understand him now?"
GREG HOLM: "Yeah."
PAT ANSON: Greg's career
as a fire fighter was saved -- not ruined -- by his decision to wear
a hearing aid.
CONDUCTOR: "Ready, play."
PAT ANSON: As for Willie
Gregory, now he wears ear plugs to protect his hearing. He also
considers himself lucky to have learned an important lesson at an
WILLIE GREGORY: Music is
good, and music is good loud. But if you don't have your ears to
hear it, I mean music does you no good at all.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: It's
better to start young, but it's never too late to take steps to
protect your hearing. Audiologist Richard Israel has this advice.
RICHARD ISRAEL, PhD,
AUDIOLOGIST: If you have to run a very noisy piece of
equipment, if you have a very large lawn that you've got to run your
tractor over, break it up. Maybe do it in 20 minute pieces, then
take a break, get away from the noise, then go back rather than be
in that noise on a continuous basis.
Wear ear protection. It's very inexpensive to buy ear protection.
A set of ear muffs, the kind that go over your ears such as you see
in the airports, they're around $10 a pair. And ear plugs maybe are
25 or 50 cents for a pair of those foam ear plugs. And they,
properly used, can put off developing a hearing loss and cut down
those dangerous sound levels.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: And
another word of caution, watch the volume on your Walkman. You may
like to crank up your music while you clean the house or exercise.
But if you can't hear someone talking to you, it's probably turned
up too loud.
Cotton balls provide
little protection against noise.
LONG DISTANCE CARE
It's never easy
to care for an aging parent. But it's doubly hard if your parent
happens to live far away. HealthWeek's Nancy Olson shows us how one
family is dealing with the demands of long-distance care.
Seventy-four-year-old Barbara Gilman can't remember when she didn't
love to paint.
BARBARA GILMAN: It's
always been a mainstay for my being, and I'm not an outstanding
artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love to do it.
ART TEACHER: "Now we're
going to take some blue..."
NANCY OLSON: But there was
a time, a few years back, when Barbara stopped painting. She stopped
doing most everything. Her family says she became confused,
disoriented and delusional.
RICHARD GILMAN: It's very
frightening all the way around. It's frightening for her and it's
frightening for you as a child to see that.
NANCY OLSON: Her son
Richard says changes needed to be made in his mother's life. She
could no longer take care of herself. She could no longer live
For Richard and his family, distance makes the situation even
DRAMA STUDENT: "What
studied torments tyrant has for me..."
NANCY OLSON: He teaches
drama at a college in Boston. His brother and sister live in
California. And Barbara lives in the Washington D.C. area.
RICHARD GILMAN: It's very
hard in any relationship to feel someone's in need and not be able
to help them. That's for me one of the most desperate feelings.
NANCY OLSON: Americans are
living longer, and moving more frequently, so more and more people
are facing this difficult challenge of caring for someone from afar.
A recent study by the National Council on Aging estimates that about
7 million Americans are caring for a parent or family member who
lives at a distance. Researchers say that's about three times the
number 10 years ago.
Dr. Donna Wagner authored the study, the first of its kind to
look at this growing number of people like Richard known as a long
distance care givers.
DONNA WAGNER, PhD, NATIONAL COUNCIL
ON THE AGING: I think there's a lot of guilt that people
have about living apart from their parents. If you're not living in
the same community you can't just drop by and say I'm taking you to
lunch, Mom, I'm doing this. You need to figure out another way to do
it and it's not an easy thing to do.
GRACE LEBOW: "Boy, your
writing is great."
NANCY OLSON: Enter Grace
Lebow. She's a geriatric care manager, the solution many families
are finding to their long distance care dilemma.
Today, she's visiting Helen Cutler, who lives in a nursing home.
Sitting down with Helen's nurse, physical therapist, and dietician
is a weekly routine.
DIETICIAN: "She is eating
well and she's taking her supplements."
GRACE LEBOW: "Great. Does
she seem to like it?"
DIETICIAN: "Oh, yes, she
GRACE LEBOW: "Ha! Okay."
NANCY OLSON: And as the
eyes and the ears of the family, she also spends time observing
Helen's progress first hand.
NURSE: "Do you have any
HELEN CUTLER: "No, not
NANCY OLSON: Once Grace
makes her evaluation, she reports back to the family.
GRACE LEBOW, GERIATRIC CARE
MANAGER: We get tied in with the whole family in a very
emotional way. I would describe myself as a counselor, a consultant,
a psychotherapist, a care manager.
NANCY OLSON: These are the
skills that prompted Richard to turn to Grace and her staff when he
saw his mom's condition deteriorate.
RICHARD GILMAN: We really
felt there was a need to have somebody who would have a regular
process of making personal contact with my mother and then could
share that contact with us, so that we could have at least a weekly
feeling for what was going on in her life.
NANCY OLSON: In the last
year, Grace has helped Barbara feel less isolated by finding a
retirement home she liked, and a doctor who was able to prescribe
the right medication.
GRACE LEBOW: When I first
met her, she was pretty withdrawn and into herself, it was as though
there was a wall between her and anybody else. Now she's out and
about, she's vital, she's vigorous.
NANCY OLSON: Barbara's
children are once again receiving weekly letters from her.
RICHARD GILMAN: Her
regaining her sense of self and being able to get her independence
back is largely responsible for a lot of the care that she received
over the past year.
BARBARA GILMAN: I know
that there is somebody always that I can call on for help. We all
need a kind of support from someone.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Joining
us from Boston to discuss long-distance care is Claudia Kalb, a
Newsweek reporter who has covered the issue.
Help us with some practical information. Say I decide I need a
qualified geriatric care manager. Is it as easy as looking in the
CLAUDIA KALB, NEWSWEEK:
Well, Sharyl, it's not quite that easy, because this is still an
emerging field. One of the best ways is word of mouth. You can also
check social service agencies in the phone book, as well as call the
National Association of Geriatric Care Managers who can help you
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Is this
an expensive service?
CLAUDIA KALB: It is
expensive. The average cost is about $75 an hour, but managers can
go as high as $150.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: And how
many hours would one need typically?
CLAUDIA KALB: Usually in
the beginning there's a large number of hours needed when crisis
happens and people need help, and then it goes probably to about
five or six hours a week of commitment.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: A lot of
people are thinking this is a great idea, but they're having a hard
enough time thinking how to pay for the long-term care period, let
alone for a manager. What for people who can't afford it?
CLAUDIA KALB: There are
other options. Every state has at least one area Agency on Aging.
There are about 700 across the country. And if you call a national
service called the Elder Care Locator, they can help you get one in
your area, which will give you local referrals that are not going to
be as high priced.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: And what
if there's, are there things that we can do without calling in a
professional if we don't think our relative is quite at the state
where they need that outside help? What can we do ourselves?
CLAUDIA KALB: There are
lots of things you can do. You can be very creative. I talked to one
woman who lives in California who has a phone book for her mom who
lives in Boston. She's then able to look for local numbers. She
visited, checked out neighbors and friends, got their numbers, was
able to have those in a book she carries around in California, so
she's able to keep in constant contact that way.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: So is it
basically just trying to keep in touch as well as you can with a
long distance relative?
CLAUDIA KALB: Yes. Just
being in touch. Daily phone calls seem to help very much. Also,
little tips like if you're looking for clothing for your mother and
you live across the country, order two catalogues. Have one sent to
you, one to your mom. The two of you can do shopping over the phone.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Good
advice. Claudia Kalb from Newsweek, thanks so much.
CLAUDIA KALB: Thank you,
For more information on long-distance care, or any other
HealthWeek story, you can call our toll-free number shown at the end
of the program.
ASK THE DOCTOR
WOMAN: "I just want to ask the doctor how do you get
the most amount of calcium when you're lactose intolerant and can't
have all the dairy products for the osteoporosis?"
BRUCE DAN, MD: First,
check with your doctor to make sure you really are lactose
intolerant. That is, unable to digest lactose, the main sugar in
milk. One study found that many adults who thought they were lactose
intolerant could drink eight ounces of milk a day without any
Some lactose-intolerant people can still stomach hard cheese or
fermented dairy products such as yogurt. You could also eat special
lactose-reduced dairy foods or take tablets containing an enzyme
that helps you digest lactose.
And there are many sources of calcium besides dairy products.
Foods that have no lactose but lots of calcium include sardines and
Also high on the list are calcium-fortified orange juice, collard
greens and salmon, canned with the bones.
If you're still not getting enough calcium, about 1,000 to 1,200
milligrams a day for adults, you could take calcium supplements.
Just be sure to check the label because the filler used in many
calcium tablets is actually lactose. With Ask the Doctor, I'm Doctor
SHARYL ATTKISSON: If
you've ever ridden a horse, you know it can be a real workout,
leaving your muscles tired and sore. But for some people struggling
with serious disabilities, horseback riding may also have the power
to "heal." HealthWeek's Bettina Gregory has more from the horse
country of northern Virginia.
BETTINA GREGORY: You don't expect to see a child with
cerebral palsy mounting a horse...
JOANNE HART: "There you
BETTINA GREGORY:... but
Cookie is actually part of 12-year-old Susie Dieter's therapy. Her
teacher says they work on the same riding skills that any rider
JOANNE HART, RIDING
INSTRUCTOR: Guiding the horse around cones or around
standards, making circles and turns and things so they work on
actual riding skills.
BETTINA GREGORY: Riding
therapy improves balance, posture, mobility and muscle tone, but one
of the biggest benefits is the horse's walk mimics normal human
DIANA LARSON, PHYSICAL
THERAPIST: On a horse, the way you have to spread your
legs and turn your knees out is exactly a pattern opposite of what
cerebral palsy and a lot of these other diagnoses, their body does
without them thinking about it. Their brain is sending incorrect
signals. They're doing odd things with their legs. When you put them
on the horse, they're turned out. They're in an exact position that
allows them to relax.
BETTINA GREGORY: Susie
gets much more than physical therapy from riding Cookie.
SUSIE DIETER: What I get
out of it is friendship with him and enjoyment also. Because I
really like to trot with him and we work as a team, so that's the
way I like it.
GLENDA MOYER: "Okay,
Winston, we're going to stretch."
BETTINA GREGORY: The
Therapeutic Riding Program in Loudon County, Virginia is not just
for kids. Now in her Thirties, Glenda Moyer suffers from multiple
sclerosis. She can only ride Winston for a few minutes at a time
even with frequent stops.
GLENDA MOYER: "All right,
Winston. We're ready to walk on."
BETTINA GREGORY: She still
GLENDA MOYER: I was almost
bed-bound when I started this program. So between the people, the
horses and the physical attributes, that's all I can say. It's
DIANA LARSON: They may
have been walking in a very odd pattern for years. Now they have
underneath them what a normal movement would be and thus their body
can build upon that.
BETTINA GREGORY: Susie
says riding has helped her to get in and out of her wheelchair more
JOANNE HART: "Good job."
BETTINA GREGORY: But
equally important is the boost in confidence and self-esteem these
GLENDA MOYER: "Goodbye,
BETTINA GREGORY:...and the
loving bond that develops between horse and rider.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: And
that's all for this week. Remember, you can visit us throughout the
week at our site on the World Wide Web. To reach the HealthWeek home
page, go to PBS ONLINE at the Internet address on your screen. That
address is www.pbs.org
Next time on HealthWeek... What's the big attraction? We'll look
at the positives and negatives of using magnets to treat illness.
We'll also give you some practical advice on choosing a doctor and
introduce you to a group of grannies who've found a fun way to "tap"
into good health.
Until then, I'm Sharyl Attkisson. Be well.
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