Scripps Tips - December 2007

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

Holiday Heart Syndrome
December and January are the deadliest months for heart disease. Rich holiday meals, an increase in alcohol consumption and the added stress can put your heart at risk and it’s not uncommon for people to initially shrug off chest pain as indigestion. Minutes matter and there is a short window of opportunity to save your heart muscle. Research suggests that people are even more reluctant for a run to the emergency room when it means disrupting a holiday gathering, or if they’ve traveled to a strange city — meaning they arrive sicker. Busy travelers tend to skip their medications, forget them when traveling or are unable to get refills far from home. People say they’re too busy to exercise, especially as it gets cold and darkness falls earlier.

A particularly heavy meal, especially a high-fat one, stresses the heart as it is digested. There’s even evidence that the lining of arteries becomes temporarily more clot-prone. The region’s largest provider of cardiac services, Scripps plans to build a comprehensive cardiovascular institute that will be one of the largest on the West Coast and a destination center for leading-edge cardiovascular treatment and research. To speak to a Scripps Health cardiologist, please contact Jaime Szefc at

Tips for Avoiding Common Holiday Injuries
The holidays can be a stressful and even dangerous time, especially when it comes to injuries. Emergency departments see an increase of patients suffering from falls, burns and injuries from car accidents. Scripps Mercy Hospital’s emergency physicians have practical advice for preventing these common injuries. For more information or to arrange a story, contact Kristin Reinhardt at

Scripps Offers Healthy Car Buying Tips
As auto show season approaches, Scripps Health reminds car shoppers to consider more than just horsepower, gas mileage and trunk space – they also need to evaluate how their new ride will treat their bodies.Scripps Health physical therapist Tim Goldberg suggests that consumers check out the following vehicle components, which can affect a driver’s muscle, joint and skeletal well being:

  • Seats - Make sure these include ample lumbar support, which cues the driver to sit up straight
  • Steering wheel - Check the tilt options to ensure proper positioning of your arms (should be level); proper positioning will help prevent neck discomfort
  • Pedals - When seated with foot on the pedal, the driver should have about a 90-degree angle at the hip and knee (and knees should not rise above the waistline)
  • Dashboard controls - These should be situated within an arm’s-length reach, with simple command sequences
  • Door entry height - Be realistic; for some, a low sports car or high SUV could make entering and exiting the vehicle difficult over time

Scripps Health is the official health care provider of the 2007 San Diego International Auto Show (Dec. 26-30). Show attendees can visit the Scripps Health Pit Stop (open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) for free chair massages, blood pressure screenings, body fat analyses, diabetes risk assessments and mini first aid kits. To arrange an interview with Scripps Health physical therapist Tim Goldberg, please contact Steve Carpowich at

Smoke-Related Eye Problems Caused by October Wildfires Still Affecting San Diego Children
Although it’s been more than a month since the San Diego wildfires were extinguished, Scripps Clinic pediatric ophthalmologist Gregory Ostrow, M.D, continues to see an increased number of children with smoke-related conjunctivitis (pink eye). Treatment can include steroids and/or antihistamines that are administered until the symptoms resolve. Dr. Ostrow is available to discuss the signs and symptoms to watch for in children, as well as the risks of conjunctivitis caused by smoke or other chemical irritants. To arrange an interview, please contact Johnny Hagerman at

Be Realistic This Holiday Season to Maintain Mental Health
The holidays can be an especially stressful time of year, filled with expectations about family togetherness and many choices about how to spend time and money. Not everyone is part of a ‘happy family’ and even happy families can have too much togetherness. The holidays can also be a huge sadness trigger for people with absent loves ones or who have a loved one unable to participate in the holidays. Jerry Gold, Ph.D., Behavioral Health Director, Scripps Mercy Hospital suggests the following tips:

  • Set time limits, develop healthy boundaries and establish time for yourself and your own family.
  • Connect with people you feel good around rather than allowing your thoughts to become preoccupied with your loss
  • Get into the practice of memorializing traditions.

To arrange an interview with Jerry Gold, Ph.D. please contact Kristin Reinhardt at

Safe toy selection
The holidays are a peak season for consumers and toy buying tops the list. The recent recalls may have some parents and gift-givers concerned. Mario Eyzaguirre, M.D., chief of pediatrics at Scripps Mercy Hospital is available to answer questions about the dangers of lead poisoning in children, and which toys are most likely to contain the toxin as well as other toy recall concerns. For more information or to arrange a story, contact Kristin Reinhardt at