Q. When you have a bypass, what exactly do they do to your heart?
In conventional heart bypass, an incision about one-foot-long is made down the center of the chest to expose the heart. The surgeon takes a section of healthy blood vessel, often from inside the chest wall or from the lower leg, and attaches the ends above and below a blocked artery so that blood flow is diverted around the narrowed portion of a diseased artery.
Q. My 90-year-old mother is extremely independent and doesn’t want me accompanying her to her doctor appointments. It’s frustrating because when she gets home, I can’t get any decent information from her. She doesn’t ask the doctors questions. What can I do about this?
This behavior is familiar to me. People in my parents’ World War II generation are self-reliant, but with a stronger respect for authority than subsequent generations. These folks tend not to challenge their doctors even with simple questions.
Second of two parts
In our last column, we discussed emotional intelligence (EI or EQ). Today’s column is about research that shows seniors have higher emotional intelligence than younger people.
Emotional intelligence is a relatively new concept. It was popularized by Daniel Goleman, a psychologist who was a science journalist for The New York Times. His 1995 book, “Emotional Intelligence,” was a bestseller.
First of two parts
Q. Are we like wine? Do we improve with age?
It’s clear to me that most of us improve in one area. I believe we become better people. My mother used to insist that individuals don’t change. We had many arguments about this.
I think our opinions are highly influenced by perception and personal experience. It’s difficult to prove either side of the argument. However, there have been studies done on “emotional intelligence” that indicate we are like Cabernet, not water.
Q. Is breast cancer the leading cause of cancer death in women?
Breast cancer is second, behind lung cancer, as the leading cause of cancer death in women. The chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in a woman’s life is about 1 in 8.
There are many risk factors for breast cancer.
The risk rises with age. About 77 percent of women with breast cancer are older than 50 when they are diagnosed.
Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close relatives have the disease.
Q. I get low blood pressure after I eat a meal. It makes me a little woozy. What can I do about it?
This is a senior malady called “postprandial hypotension.” When you eat, blood pours into your digestive system. To maintain your blood pressure, your heart pumps more often and your blood vessels constrict. These compensatory mechanisms don’t work for some people.
To help prevent postprandial hypotension, eat small portions several times a day and limit high-carbohydrate foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.
Q. Fruit juices give me a stomach ache. Do you think I’m allergic to them?
I never diagnose because I’m not a physician. I’m just a journalist. If you have a problem digesting fruit juices and this is getting in your way, you should get a medical check-up.
Meanwhile, you might want to keep a diary of the food you eat. This can be the first stope to isolate foods that are giving you digestion problems. The intensity of your reaction can help determine whether you are allergic to certain foods or are suffering from a food intolerance.
Q. My granddaughter came home with a belly-button ring. God help us all. What is going on with these body piercings?
Body piercings have become more popular in the last 25 years, but they are certainly not a new thing.
People in most cultures have pierced themselves for thousands of years. There are mummified remains of a human in Egypt that was pierced more than 5,000 years ago. Body piercings are also mentioned in the Bible.
Piercing the body and inserting jewelry in the holes is classified as a form of skin adornment, a fashion statement.
Q. How can I tell if I’m suffering from sleep apnea?
About 18 million United States citizens have sleep apnea. It’s much more common in older adults and men. Apnea is Greek for “without breath.”
People with sleep apnea stop breathing for as long as 30 seconds at a time. These interruptions can happen hundreds of times a night.
The breathing cessations may wake you and prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. These awakenings usually are so brief that you don’t recall them.
The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
Excessive daytime sleepiness,
Q. I’ve heard the term “shock” a million times, but I realized that I don’t really know what it means. What is shock?
Shock is a condition in which blood pressure is too low and not enough oxygenated blood can sustain your body.
The medical disorder of shock is not the “shock” that people feel from a sudden traumatic event. In the United States, hospital emergency departments report more than one million cases of shock each year.
There are different kinds of shock. They include:
Anaphylactic shock: from an allergic reaction,