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Dr. Oz Explains the Threat of COVID-19 to Vulnerable Populations

Remember three months ago when COVID-19 was nothing more than an international whisper? Now, the impact of the coronavirus has only just started to be felt. There’s the immediate travesty, of course, but as businesses reopen and families begin to trend toward some state of normalcy, there’s more to come. The impact of such a pandemic is not only widespread but carries with it a longevity that we, as a society, must be prepared for. Health is everyone’s number one concern. And on the backburner, we have to deal with the eventuality of living in a world that has been touched by COVID-19 and adjusting to the “new normal.”

To help mitigate the immediate and prolonged effects of the coronavirus, Dr. Mehmet Oz provides his professional expertise in explaining how we can practice better health and, in turn, fight the unwelcome presence of COVID-19.

Who Is Dr. Oz?

Dr. Oz has achieved widespread acclaim over his career. He is known to many as a television personality who first appeared several times on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and now hosts his own broadcast called “The Dr. Oz Show.” However, Dr. Oz is also a practiced heart surgeon.

The multifaceted professional took inspiration from his father’s surgical career and decided early on that he wanted to follow in his footsteps. After pursuing undergraduate studies at Harvard University, he went on to earn an MBA from The Wharton School and then attended the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for his medical degree.

Originally a traditionalist and by-the-books practitioner, Dr. Oz saw his perspective change after one of his patient’s families forbade him to perform a blood transfusion. Their religious reasoning completely changed his view on medicine and inspired him to research and implement natural treatments alongside his traditional Western medical practices. This research and practice paved the way for his book, which he co-wrote with his wife, called “Healing from the Heart: A Leading Surgeon Combines Eastern and Western Traditions to Create the Medicine of the Future.”

Dr. Oz is also the founder of the Cardiovascular Institute and Integrative Medicine Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. His work continues to inspire many and touch the lives of the masses.

Fighting COVID-19

One of the greatest challenges in this latest round of doctors versus illness has been trying to figure out how and why certain groups of people are more affected by the virus than others. These efforts have started to pay off. Dr. Oz points to evidence that might explain why African Americans infected with COVID-19 are being hospitalized at a higher rate than other groups of people. A study suggests that there might be some unknown genetic or biological factor contributing to the spike in hospital visits. 

The reasoning might even move beyond the primary scope of medicine. With less access to primary care, African Americans might be seeking help at a hospital first. Past negative experiences with health care providers may also be a factor, with people choosing to seek medical attention only when it’s an absolute necessity and, therefore, rushing straight to the emergency room. Additionally, financial circumstances may force someone to continue working and attempting to ignore the symptoms that come along with the virus. 

Regardless, Dr. Oz cuts to the meat of the argument that the study provides: African Americans are suffering from COVID-19 at a rate disproportionate to those of other groups of people. The study also points toward people with pre-existing and chronic conditions like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and lung disease. These conditions are often common in underserved populations.

As the country starts to reopen, Dr. Oz questions what vulnerable people might be able to do to start normalizing their lives. After all, the president’s “Opening Up America Again” plan still calls for vulnerable groups of people to stay home. Dr. Oz has spent his entire career helping people with chronic conditions, which is why he believes in people’s ability to listen to practical advice and take more stock in basic lifestyle changes as a means of protecting themselves from the virus and, in turn, being able to leave the house again.

How to Protect Yourself

Here’s Dr. Oz’s advice for vulnerable people looking to continue living their lives as, around the world, scientists work to fast-track a COVID-19 vaccine.

First of all, learning about one’s condition and how simple lifestyle choices can help is crucial. Think of the body as having its own military. However, when that military is distracted by internal issues, it cannot focus on anything external. Thus, an invading enemy like COVID-19 is given a perfect window of opportunity. 

Plus, chronic conditions are known to damage the lining of our arteries. When a viral infection enters the body, this becomes extremely problematic. Viral infections can increase blood clotting, which will cause the immune system to overreact and potentially result in a heart attack. The key, says Dr. Oz, is knowing about these things so that actions can be taken to alleviate them.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (over 140/90) is being reported by doctors as a major risk factor for those hospitalized by COVID-19. Dr. Oz makes two lifestyle recommendations toward curtailing high blood pressure. The first is simply walking. Particularly with the country reopening, this is a feasible practice, though Dr. Oz maintains that vulnerable people should practice social distancing when doing so.

A better option, he says, is HIIT (high-intensity interval) training. HIIT training is a form of max-level exercise in short intervals. Its intensity can help reduce the stiffness of artery walls and, in turn, lower the body’s resting blood pressure. It’s strenuous exercise, for sure, but worthwhile.

Obesity and Diabetes

Why can losing extra weight help fight COVID-19? Trimming inches off of one’s waistline can reduce blood pressure and prevent inflamed fat cells. With inflamed fat cells comes an inability of the body to fight off infection and, sometimes, complete refusal of a vaccine. 

Dr. Oz’s recommendation for waistlines is less than 37 inches for men and less than 35 inches for women. He recommends cutting back on simple sugars as a way to start losing weight. In conjunction with this, start eating more whole grains, reduce salt intake, and consider incorporating immune-boosting herbs and spices like garlic, turmeric, and ginger. He also encourages women and men to take the best multivitamins to supplement their diet, improve their health, and keep their bodies in tip-top shape. 

A lot of us also have problems when it comes to snacking. Things like nuts and hummus help reduce later urges, and Dr. Oz emphasizes the necessity of getting rid of dessert from the day’s caloric intake. He also recommends a few high-volume foods (with fewer calories) if the snack craving is hard to shake: watermelon, air-popped popcorn, frozen grapes, and kale.

Weight management also serves as a powerful force against diabetes. Dr. Oz explains that pre-diabetes affects a third of the U.S. population, without many people ever knowing it. One of the ways to counteract this and possibly prevent full-fledged diabetes is by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

Lung Disease

Pneumonia often shows itself in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, which is why Dr. Oz is adamant that people should do whatever they can to stop smoking and vaping. He shares the same advice with his heart surgery patients leading up to their procedures. Lung disease acts as a brick wall in combating pneumonia, which is why it’s so important – especially now – for people to take care of their lungs. 

Also, this could be the perfect opportunity to break a bad habit. Stop smoking and vaping to fight against COVID-19 and come out on the other side as someone who doesn’t want to touch a cigarette or vape cartridge ever again.

Lifestyle Changes for Living in Style

There’s a lot left to be seen with COVID-19 and a lot that needs to happen for the world to gravitate back toward normal (or even close to normal). Data must continue to be accurate and definite and show us what we need to know regarding the virus and its presence in our communities. People must unite on a global level, observing the safety guidelines enacted by states and countries and not questioning the need for such practices. 

Data must also trend downward across the board, proving a decline in COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths. Also, a vaccine must be created and administered. Despite the formidable amount of time that it takes to develop one, this has become a worldwide priority, with thousands upon thousands of scientists using their collective knowledge to find answers. Until then, Dr. Oz says that the responsibility falls partially on individuals, especially those who might be vulnerable to the malicious effects of COVID-19. 

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