Tiny kernels of truth can be stretched a long way. Particularly when it’s spread on the internet. And when it involves health, claims can go from flimsy to absurd to dangerous.
One recent case in point, “Heart Attacks and Drinking Water,” a posting that popped into my Facebook newsfeed from a well-meaning FB friend.
Without reprinting its claims verbatim, it talked about the proper times during the day to drink water to prevent heart attacks and to maximize its effectiveness in the body.
Now it’s true that it’s important to drink plenty of water in daily total fluid intake, after all, good old H₂O (not the rock band) makes up about two-thirds of our body weight.
Experts suggest let thirst be your guide – for healthy adults, 3.7 liters of total liquid intake for men and 2.7 liters of total liquid intake for women, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
Apparently, this internet lore about drinking water to prevent heart attacks started off as an email circulation about heart attacks and aspirin, which has now been creatively attached to information on water, Virend K. Somers, MD told The American. Dr. Somers is the Mayo Clinic cardiologist whose name and the organization he represents have been attached to this erroneous posting.
For starters, the posting did not come from Somers or even Mayo.
“For clarification, we had nothing to do with the e-mail. The Mayo Clinic web site has a note about this particular e-mail, pointing out that neither Mayo Clinic nor I had any role in formulating it.”
That would be a “ditto” on the health studies as well.
“I have not published any studies on aspirin nor on water,” Dr. Somers added. “The entire part on aspirin was put together by someone who took the liberty of mischievously attaching our name and our work on sleep apnea to the advice.”
Not only are some of the statements wrong. Some of this advice could hurt more than it could help.
“Some of the advice is potentially dangerous and irresponsible, such as the part about not lying down,” Somers said. “Aspirin may also have significant side effects. Should anyone have any questions regarding aspirin and personal health issues, it would be best to discuss these with his or her physician.”
If you’ve been advised by your doctor to take a daily low-dose aspirin, health experts currently point out that the best time to take that it for heart health is at bedtime. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration stresses consistency in the time of day, but four hours before taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen or naproxen, to reduce the risk of bleeding in the stomach or intestines.
Bottom line: Friends don’t let friends get their health care advice from non-medical personnel on social media. Leave that to the health professionals.
Have you read some “health advice” online that seems too good to be true? Send it to us at YourHealthMatters@stlamerican.com and we’ll find out the real deal.
Follow this reporter on Twitter @YrHealthMatters.
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