Dr. Oz unveils sobering health news for Portland

Dr. Oz unveils sobering health news for Portland »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Dr. Mehmet Oz got up early this morning, made the trek to Oregon Health Sciences University and made the rounds as the first patients received their free 15-minute physicals. He even surprised a few people with one-on-one advice they didn't think they'd get. One of those people was KATU reporter Lincoln Graves.

Oz, especially in the past few years, has become a hugely popular. 

Denise Waring made an early-morning drive Monday from Warrenton just to see the doctor. While his fame was what brought her to OHSU on Monday, she also said she knows her health can't be ignored.

"I do need to lose some weight and some inches," she said. "That's my goal."

A "really nervous" Waring was the first person in line Monday morning, not only for her health report card, but wondering whether she'll catch a glimpse of the man behind the big event. Oz ended up surprising Graves as he was getting his blood drawn. Graves asked Oz if he should be worried.

"It's too early to tell, but the blood is coming out anyway," he said.

In the end, Graves came back with a fairly good health report, with the exception of a slightly elevated blood pressure of 130 over 79.

"The lower number is OK," Oz said. "I wish the higher number wasn't where it is, but that could be because you've been up since 2 in the morning ... The optimal blood pressure is 115 over 75."

Oz prescribed more physical activity and calming exercises like meditation.

Graves wasn't the lone one to receive one-on-one advice from the doctor. Waring also received some, as well.

"The irony about cigarette smoke is people think it helps them cope with stress," he said.

"It doesn't," Waring said.

It's a lesson Waring said she learned by watching The Dr. Oz Show.

"I think you're gonna be just fine," Oz said to Waring. "But you gotta lose that weight."

Waring said she's working on that aspect of her health, which is the first step toward a healthier lifestyle. Linda Persijn is also working toward a healthier life as she gets a handle on her high blood pressure, which can cause heart attacks, strokes, kidney failures, blindness and more. People often go in to have a health screening and have no idea they have high blood pressure because they have yet to see any symptoms.

The same is often true of another problem -- anemia.

"If we are anemic because we are losing blood, we need to know why we are losing blood and we need to stop it," said Dr. Elizabeth Steiner from OHSU. "That's not supposed to happen, right? Because if we lose blood, we lose white blood cells that help us fight off infection, for example."

A more obvious problem is obesity. The damage it does, though, is often hidden. It causes heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.

"Which is why the approach to change is one that really takes a commitment to the long haul and realizing that weight change takes time and it takes commitment," said OHSU's Dr. Brett White.

Dorothy Wilson, 91, understands that.

"You are exercising and proper food," she said. "You want to keep track of the things you are eating."

She has heart problems -- another issue -- often not revealed without a health check-up.

"It is hard for a lot of people to grasp that if you don't have symptoms, especially," said OHSU's Dr. Ann Tseng. "If you are not having that chest pain. and you are not feeling short of breath when you when you are walking down the street you might just say, 'I feel fine.'"

People also might feel fine, but they also might have diabetes or pre-diabetes -- a silent killer that many times isn't uncovered until people are screened.

"I would not have found my diabetes, I would not have found my high blood pressure my cholesterol unless I did my regular checkups with my doctor," Persijn said.

After Oz gave a few people physicals, he delivered his diagnosis for Portland, based on the results of Monday's approximate 500 health screenings.

Oz said the No. 1 issue in Portland is hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. he said 40 percent of the people who showed up Monday had high blood pressure, up from the 25 percent health screeners expected.

Oz said hypertension is the No. 1 cause of aging and the No. 1 cause of death in America. He said the results were the tales of two cities. The first -- people perhaps with more money who can access the bike trails and gyms. The second? Those who cannot. Maybe they're uninsured and non connecting with a healthy lifestyle and fresh produce.

"If you're if not in that group, don't think it doesn't matter to you because at the end of the day, that's where so much of the cost comes -- the drag on the economic growth of a great city like Portland occurs," Oz said. "You can not be a healthy city by yourself. You've got to get help to do it, but you definitely can't be wealthy if you're not healthy."

Oz also talked about health insurance and that about 33 percent of the people who came to the health screenings Monday did not have insurance, a number that is higher than other cities. Oz also said that "shockingly" 40 percent of the people who got a health screening were obese and another 28 percent were overweight. Oz said those three factors Portland is facing must be taken seriously.

"That's important because that causes a lot of medical problems, including hypertension," Oz said. "This is the big news story for today -- 41 percent -- four out of every 10 people we saw today were hypertensive ... That number is much higher than we've seen in other clinics we have done. I think there's an important reason for that because (Portland's) diabetes numbers were not terrible ... and the cholesterol numbers weren't terrible, but there's something going on in Portland. I think we have a tale of two cities."

Dr. Oz's Portland Health Data Report Card