Pulse Check Special Feature: The Coronavirus & Comorbidities
05/07/2020 | Season 1, Episode 18
Dr. Drew Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra
On this Pulse Check Special Feature, Drs. Drew and Steve Sinatra give a timely update on the coronavirus, and how COVID-19 interacts with underlying health conditions — like high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes — raising your risk. The doctors share important diet, nutraceutical and lifestyle recommendations for what you can do to lower your risk of comorbidities, and protect your health during this challenging time.
LINKS & RESOURCES
- Visit the Healthy Directions website for more health and wellness content and information!
- Check out the Healthy Directions Articles Archive, where you can search for specific, health-related content from all of our Healthy Directions doctors and experts.
- During the segment, Dr. Drew mentioned an article from JAMA, “Presenting Characteristics, Comorbidities, and Outcomes Among 5700 Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19 in the New York City Area”; read the full article.
- Check out these recent coronavirus videos from Drs. Steve and Drew on an important reason to get more quercetin and COVID-19 antibody testing.
- For more great information and recommendations from Drs. Steve and Drew Sinatra on diabetes and high blood pressure, listen to Episode 17: Diabetes and Your Heart: Natural Ways to Control Your Blood Sugar.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Hey folks, thanks for joining us for this special Be HEALTHistic extra episode. It's going to be all about COVID-19 and comorbidities, which I'm sure you've been hearing about in the news lately.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: A comorbidity is really defined as a chronic health condition that exists with another condition. For example, if someone has rheumatoid arthritis, and they also have anxiety and depression, those are comorbidities that exist with the rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So Dad, welcome to the show.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Hey, Drew. It's good to be here.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right. First, I wanted to talk about this new study that came out of JAMA about a week and a half ago. It was on April 22nd, 2020, and the title of the article is this, “Presenting Characteristics, Comorbidities, and Outcomes Among 5,700 Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19 in the New York City Area.”
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Now, what was really neat about this study, Dad, was they looked at 5,700 people that were PCR positive. So, they had the nasopharyngeal swab, they actually came back positive, COVID-19. And what they did was, they just looked at all parameters of these folks. So, their demographics, they looked at comorbidities — which we're going to talk about — they looked at different labs that were run, and which were elevated. So, lots of different outcomes that they were looking for, and I found it to be really helpful and insightful.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: What they found, essentially, is that most of these people admitted to the hospital, 94% of them had a chronic health problem. So of those 5,700 people, 94% of them had a chronic health problem, and 88% had two or more. So these are comorbidities that we're now talking about. And the three most common ones were hypertension at 55.6%, obesity was 41.7%, and diabetes came in third, at 33.8%.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So, Dad, what do you think about those numbers?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Oh my gosh, that's the trifecta. The problem with that is there are many diabetics who are overweight, that have high blood pressure. So, my gosh, if you look at this study, that means that if you are an overweight diabetic with hypertension, then your comorbidity is sky-high and you're at extreme…and I want to mention, extreme risk.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So having this information, we have to present it as a gift in disguise. And the gift is — if it's high blood pressure, overweight status, and higher blood sugars, well, the good news, and the reframe, is that the person can do something about it. So if there was ever an impetus to lose weight, or choose a healthier road of healthy lifestyle characteristics, this is it.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So, I would say to anybody listening who's a Type 2 diabetic — you got to get the sugar out of your diet. You got to do some more walking. You need to take more targeted nutritional supplements. You need to be more prudent about getting that hemoglobin A1C down, and getting a mere five or 10 pounds down. Because, if you lose five or 10 pounds away, Drew — where do the inflammatory cytokines live?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: In the fat tissue.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: In the fat cells, right? In the fat tissue, right? So, it makes sense that these comorbidities are going off the charts, because when you take a diabetic whose overweight, they have more fat cells — where the viruses or the inflammatory cytokines can live — rendering the person more at a comorbidity state. So the reframe here, it’s great news, it’s great news to our listeners — because you can do something about this.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Dad, you're so right on that. Because this pandemic that we're having, this may not be the first one. It seems like these could be coming more regularly, or we might have a second wave of this thing coming in the fall or winter. So, now is the time, we have the data in — now is the time to really make changes in your health. If it's going to be eating better foods right now, or, like you said, dropping that blood sugar, maybe exercising a little more. Now is the time to really start doing these things, to get your health back on track.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right. Especially if this cycle continues and the virus reappears again. Which, it is an influenza…these influenzas always come in late fall, early winter. So we're going to see another surge of this.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: But here's the reframe, Drew. Our listeners can do something about it now. Like I said before, this is it, this is it. This is curtain time. We want our listeners to be their own doctor, we can guide them, we can put them on a road better traveled now. So if they lose weight, exercise more, dropped the hemoglobin A1C, they can do that. They can take targeted nutritional supplements, as well. There's lots of supplements that you can take while you're losing weight, and while you're walking more, and while you're eating less sugars. So the easiest thing is less sugar in the diet, that's a given. So, the simple sugars are out — sodas are out, white table sugar is out. It's okay to have a little dark chocolate that's 75 or more cocoa, right?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Of course.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Because you get the flavonoids there. By the way, the dark chocolate will lower your blood pressure, as well — we know that.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So, let's talk about each comorbidity, let's talk about blood pressure first. What are some good things, Drew, to lower blood pressure? One of them you've written about with earthing and grounding, you were involved with us in that study.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Sure. Gosh, there's so many things for high blood pressure. Like you just mentioned, earthing and grounding. Great way to get out, put your feet in the grass, and let your autonomic nervous system calm down a little bit.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Exactly, you just nailed it. Because one of the reasons why people are so hypertensive during this crisis is that they're living in fear. And fear turns on the sympathetic limb of the autonomic nervous system. So, if our listeners just put their bare feet on the ground more — walk outside, walk on grass, walk on concrete. Hey, I live in Florida, and the beaches are being opened up, and I love walking on the beach. You know, Drew, I walk when the surf is coming in, so to speak, so you're getting all the minerals in that water, and the water is wet. So on wet sand, I'm really grounding. And remember, you and I have written about this in many papers. When you ground, it's like taking in handfuls of antioxidants. You're getting vitamin G from the earth’s surface. You're taking in the Schumann resonance, through the K1 aspect of the foot.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So, earthing definitely lowers blood pressure, and blood pressure is a comorbidity. What are some other ways of lowering blood pressure? What about salt in a diet, what do you think about that?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, obviously, restricting salt. I always tell people it's okay to just sprinkle a little salt on your meals, that's if you're doing home cooking, of course. But, if you're eating lots of Campbell's soup or lots of prepared processed foods, there's going to be a significantly higher amount of salt in those foods. So you really do need to watch the sodium content.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Another thing, Dad, that I think is really prudent here is meditation. I got to tell you, I've been…well, I was meditating before this whole crisis set, but I have been meditating every morning for about 10 to 20 minutes. And I know that those who have blood pressure, meditation can be really helpful for, again, calming down that sympathetic drive in folks, and really promoting more of the parasympathetic effect. So I'm a big fan of meditation.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well said, son. Even a few minutes of meditation, even a few minutes of alternative nostril breathing, will attenuate the autonomic nervous system immediately. That's why a lot of the people who practice yoga do alternate nostril breathing. I did it myself many times when I was teaching down at the yoga institute. So that's really good.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I want to go back to some taboo foods, because you mentioned canned soups having a lot of salt, which will drive the blood pressure up. Dill pickle is another one. Olives, another one. And these flame-broiled chickens you get in fast food restaurants, a lot of them are closed right now, but they're going to open up soon. So, you want our listeners to realize that if they're getting four, five, six grams of sodium a day, and a lot of that they get in these taboo foods that we just mentioned. If you're prone to high blood pressure, that will increase the numbers to soar.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So, healthy diet is good, like a Mediterranean diet. More olive oil — olive oil contains polyphenols. And remember the PREDIMED study, which showed blood pressures went down, and heart disease went down, and diabetes went down, and weight loss went down. So, a good, healthy diet with lots of polyphenols. We mentioned some dark chocolate, lower sodium, and getting exercise and meditation. There's so many ways of lowering blood pressure. And I like some targeted nutritional supplements. What comes to your mind when I mention that, for blood pressure?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That's a great question, Dad. I think, coupled with all the stress that we're under, I think adding on some magnesium would be a really good idea.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Right on, son. Magnesium. You are so right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, you might as well kill two birds with one stone with that one. So let's target the stress, let's also target the blood pressure. And I'm obviously a big fan of CoQ10 for lowering blood pressure, as well.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah. There's lots of good, controlled studies showing blood pressure-lowering with CoQ10. I like omega-3s. Whenever you bring omega-3s to the table, not only are you supporting endothelial function of your basement membranes, and that's why we've seen less heart attack with omega-3s — but omega-3's lower blood pressure, as well. I've seen that lots of times in my practice, so I'm a big fan of that.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: I also like other nutrients that support endothelial function, like resveratrol. It's another one I like. I like the combination of resveratrol and turmeric, for example — that's really good for the cardiovascular system. So there's lots of targeted nutraceuticals. One of my favorites for all time is NAC, N-acetylcysteine. You know why, right? Because it's broken down to glutathione.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Exactly. It helps form glutathione.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah. So, when you have glutathione in the body, and you combine it with vitamin C and selenium, it forms glutathione peroxidase, which is the major antioxidant against oxidative stress. And we're getting severe oxidative stress from everything from EMF and certainly bacterial, viral illnesses, emotional stress, etc., etc. So, I love bringing glutathione peroxidase to the table.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And one of my favorite nutraceuticals, and you and I used it on the lung, is quercetin. I think quercetin is a home run, especially against viral illnesses. I know, when I did the report with the American College of Nutrition on the American Nutraceutical Association, we saw that quercetin actually has an inhibitory effect on viral replication in the lung. So, that's helpful, as well.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Now Dad, what about obesity? That's another comorbidity here that's present. What else can we recommend to people for obesity?
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Well, again, a less sugary diet, a walking program, just restricting carbs. That's sort of pretty simple. Losing weight can be a nightmare for some people, but again, just taking in less calories and less sugars — that's the way to go. Especially since every pound you lose, you're losing the home where these inflammatory cytokines live. So, I really like that.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And Dad, we've also talked about diabetes, too, on previous podcasts. So there's lots of information there that people can look up, and learn about how to improve their diabetes.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: Yeah, and it's so simple. The most important thing here is lower your blood sugar, lower your hemoglobin A1C. Because we realized that when you have higher blood sugars, you are literally squelching…in other words, you're tying up your white blood cell activity. In other words, you're squelching phagocytosis, where the white blood cells become tired. So, it behooves any diabetic to really work on their blood sugars, lower that hemoglobin A1C. And again, everything's connected, everything's connected. You lose five or 10 pounds, you're lowering your hemoglobin A1C, you're lowering your blood sugar, and you're lowering your blood pressure.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: So, weight loss here is key. This is not rocket science, it's not rocket science. And I'm pleading with our listeners that you can be in control of your own health. This is the bottom line where you and I, we can empower people — but really, they got to get across the finish line, they got to get this across the finish line. And I can think of no better time to take responsibility for your own health then right now with COVID-19.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Couldn't agree more, Dad. Well, thanks everyone for joining us for another episode today. I'm Dr. Drew Sinatra.
Dr. Steve Sinatra: And I'm Dr. Steve Sinatra.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And this is Be HEALTHistic.
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Meet Dr. Drew Sinatra
Dr. Drew Sinatra is a board-certified naturopathic doctor and self-described “health detective” with a passion for promoting natural healing, wellness, and improving quality of life by addressing the root cause of illness in patients of all ages. His vibrant practice focuses on treating the whole person (mind, body, and spirit) and finding missed connections between symptoms and health issues that are often overlooked by conventional medicine.
Meet Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy.