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Brian May - "Very healthy" but "near death"


TomBAvoider
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What a mess. The famous Queen guitarist (and astrophysicist!) Brian May has had a few medical mishaps recently. He was gardening and suddenly doubled over in tremendous pain. It seems he tore his gluteus maximus (butt muscle) - and it made all the papers to much amusement. But then, it transpired it wasn't a muscle that was pulled, but rather, it was a compressed sciatic nerve - and all his ice-applications were wrong, so they had to treat that. Whew.

But then, he had a "mild" heart attack - which transpired not to have been mild at all, and he was in fact near death. They put a bunch of stents in. Apparently he's had three arteries blocked.

So far, so what - he's 72 years old. 

What's interesting: he thought of himself as very healthy. All his medical exams seemed to be re-assuring - blood pressure, weight and so on. His diet was always good and he exercises - and only 72.

He drew the lesson from this that you might think you are doing everything right and are very healthy, but JUST BECAUSE you are older, things might be going seriously bad with no warning. You need to get checked out. You think your heart is in excellent shape - as he thought - and in fact it might be on verge of failure with three arteries almost completely blocked... how would you know?

So often you read "he suddenly dropped dead! But he was so healthy! His diet was perfect! He exercised! Regular medical checkups!"

Brian May says he was 'very near death' after a heart attack

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That is very sad and troubling. I'm not sure what Brian's diet and lifestyle were like when he was younger, but he's certainly been trying to be healthy lately. Here is a excerpt from a 2018 blog post he wrote:

OK.  Let’s be clear here.  I haven’t eaten red meat or chicken for many years now.  That’s my choice.  But I’m neither Vegan nor truly vegetarian.  I still eat a bit of fish now and then - and prawns remain a weakness.  So I’m not preaching. But I feel I’m on a journey towards eating more humanely.  More and more I enjoy Vegan food, especially since it’s getting easier, with restaurants like Pizza Express coming up with a whole vegan menu. 

And he appeared to go completely vegan, at least for January of this year with what sounds like a very healthy diet:

Being Vegan is pretty simple in our house ! Well, so it seems, so far.

During the day we snack on fruit and nuts and rough oatcakes, and the occasional sweet treat like Turkish Delight. But, if we’re lucky enough to have an evening meal together, we like something warming. We don’t usually feel the need for imitation meats - we just love veg - and luckily for me my lovely wife loves cookin’ em ! And there are so many to choose from these days.

Here we have hot asparagus, baby carrots, sauté potatoes, sweet corn and fried sweet peppers, along with cool artichoke hearts and avocado and cherry tomatoes. Followed by some berries for desert, and a cuppa tea with almond milk ... I don’t really feel I’m missing anything ! SO ! On day 7 of my Veganuary, so far so good. Even my black Christmas Season mood seems to be lifting a little. But it’s early days, of course. Enjoying seeing your posts on how you are eating, folks. Thanks for the supportive comments. 

The above meal looks delicious and quite in line with what people around here have posted! Cross your eyes to see it in stereo:

       IMG_040_Vegan_meal_576x753_cross.jpg

He hates smoking (bans it at his concerts) and apparently never did drugs either. Hopefully he'll recover and have many good years ahead of him. But it does emphasize the point that you never can tell how long you've got.

--Dean

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But it does emphasize the point that you never can tell how long you've got.

Golden words of wisdom, Dean! This is what I think almost daily, or whenever I read or hear about some "healthy" practice or another, some wonderful new exercise or whatnot. A few years later, I read that the master practitioner of "strength training for health" who has books, videos and websites is dead at a sorry age of 76.

Brian May never abused drugs and was pretty health conscious most of his life. We're told that if you merely engage in the "healthy 7 behaviors" or "healthy five" or whatnot, you have the right to live into your 80's. But people regularly croak much before that. It's long been my suspicion that your body has a certain durability, and your ability to affect your lifespan is surprisingly limited - maybe, maybe, you can affect your healthspan somewhat, but it's all pretty depressing. Brian May was saved by modern emergency medicine. Back in the day, he'd be dead as a doornail - not even that long ago in the past, a matter of decades.

An insanely massive drug abuser Little Richard lived to 87. I met him, incidentally, back in the 80's - quite an amusing and charismatic fellow. But as he himself acknowledged, he inhaled drugs as if he had a truck exhaust pipe stuck in his mouth. An unimaginable scale. Alcohol too and so on. How in the world does a guy like that live to 87? Meanwhile all sorts of life-long vegetarians and health-nut folks croak in their early 80's - 82, 84, 85. Little Richard had a good body - that's all.

Poor David Bowie - well, maybe not so poor insofar that he too was a prodigious drug abuser, but about a year before his death, I was at a party and we were all talking marveling that DB was still alive, and how incredible it was that he made it into his 60's, unbelievable given the abuse he took. But then he died of liver cancer - pretty much at his father's age (who died of heart disease - and DB himself had a heart attack a decade or so earlier). Iggy Pop, his friend who was perhaps even a more dedicated drug abuser (ended up in a mental hospital for awhile) - is still tooling around starting on his 70's. Go figure.

There's no rhyme or reason. How much sense does it make to obsess over minutia of health practices - it probably makes less than zero difference. I do, because I enjoy it as a project of sorts, but I'm fully resigned to it having very little if any effect on my lifespan - I'll count myself supremely lucky if it gives me a couple more years of healthspan... not that I would even know, given that my life is an n1 experiment. So it goes.

Edited by TomBAvoider
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12 minutes ago, Todd Allen said:
1 hour ago, Dean Pomerleau said:

 

 Pizza Express making it easier to eat vegan may not be making it easier to eat healthy.

The Pizza Express vegan menu isn't perfect healthwise, but it doesn't look too bad. I'd eat there on a special occasion and I wish we had one near me - this pie looks mighty tasty!

Screenshot_20200525-171743_Chrome.jpg

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1 hour ago, Dean Pomerleau said:

The Pizza Express vegan menu isn't perfect healthwise, but it doesn't look too bad.

It's better than the average American diet.  The pictured pizza is more attractive than I expected and probably tasty.  But the majority of the calories and probably most of each macro nutrient are coming from the flour, vega mozzarella alternative and garlic oil which doesn't meet my expectations for a whole foods based diet.  The garlic oil could easily be garlic infused canola oil stored in a plastic bottle at room temperature in a hot kitchen.  I wouldn't automatically assume the fake cheese has a superior health profile merely because it is vegan.

Edited by Todd Allen
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1 hour ago, TomBAvoider said:

Or as Brian May calls it these days "heart attack on a plate". 

3 minutes ago, Todd Allen said:

But the majority of the calories and probably most of each macro nutrient are coming from the flour, vega mozzarella alternative and garlic oil which doesn't meet my expectations for a whole foods based diet... 

Lighten up guys. Eating a less-than-perfect meal once in a while isn't going to kill you, or significantly shorten your healthspan/lifespan. 

--Dean

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We don't really know his situation or what 'very healthy' even means. He could simply be genetically unlikely and have high levels of cholesterol. He could problems related to inflammation and the immune system. Maybe he is still vegan and be low in B12 with high homocysteine leading a higher risk of heart disease.

He's had persistent health issues for many years. Suffered very bad depression. Has been in and out of hospital for the past decade.

Who knows what is going on with him...

It's sad for him and I hope he does recover...

I think heart disease is not at the top of the list of things we should worry about for anyone on serious CRON unless you're extremely genetically susceptible or have some other major inflammatory or infectious disease going on.

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Lighten up guys. Eating a less-than-perfect meal once in a while isn't going to kill you, or significantly shorten your healthspan/lifespan. 

Dean, please respect different points of view, especially when they're right! So I disagree. If Brian May wants to live healthily, he should immediately switch from his profilgate and indulgent diet - he must immediately get on a steady diet of thin gruel. Pair that with daily beatings with fresh bamboo sticks (helps with circulation), a daily immersion in ice water and ice cold showers, then off to bed without supper. For an affordable price, a hired German trainer can exercise him in the yard "eins, zwei, drei" until he's ready to pass out. And so on for the rest of his days.

At the end of that ordeal, he'll have a chance to prolong his life by up to a month, maybe even six weeks.

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3 hours ago, Matt said:

We don't really know his situation or what 'very healthy' even means. He could simply be genetically unlikely and have high levels of cholesterol. He could problems related to inflammation and the immune system. Maybe he is still vegan and be low in B12 with high homocysteine leading a higher risk of heart disease.

He's had persistent health issues for many years. Suffered very bad depression. Has been in and out of hospital for the past decade.

Who knows what is going on with him...

This about sums it up.  People's ideas of "healthy" are relative to what they experience around them and we've all met obese people who eat "healthy" and "like a bird."

And then there is genetics, of course.

I do like the occasional pizza, though, once or twice a month or so.  And I ate two Beyond sausages today, that's "healthy," right?

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1 hour ago, Gordo said:

Is heart disease caused by something other than diet?

Some might argue that lack of exercise and prolonged sitting causes atherosclerosis.

But the classic non-diet cause of heart disease is for example familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) - where uncontrollably high cholesterol causes pathological impact of heart disease and often early heart attacks - it's not diet-related, it's genetic. That's an extreme case, but excessively high cholesterol, or improperly processed cholesterol is along a spectrum - some milder than FH, but still resulting in CVD problems and not amenable to diet or exercise (f.ex. I have high LDL which is absolutely not amenable to heroic dietary and exercise interventions - as a result, I'm on a statin). And so on for other pathologies that sometimes are genetically based - for example high blood pressure, which can have a genetic background (other causes can indeed be diet related), and high BP results in negative impact on CVD. There's a myriad of these that are not related to diet or exercise. 

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Well anyone who's gotten lipid profile bloodwork should know if they have familial hypercholesterolemia.  I'm skeptical that dietary interventions couldn't prevent heart disease even in such a person though.

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2 hours ago, Gordo said:

Well anyone who's gotten lipid profile bloodwork should know if they have familial hypercholesterolemia.  I'm skeptical that dietary interventions couldn't prevent heart disease even in such a person though.

I believe Mike Colella who posts often here, has some form of FM (if I remember correctly) - possibly a mild form. In any case, if I recall correctly, he claimed at some point that only pretty rigorous CR helped bring his lipid numbers down. But really, he should speak for himself, this is just my recollection. 

I'm a different example. Even during my most severe CR - less than 1200 cal/day, sustained for quite a while - my LDL never dropped below 124 or so (there was one time it got to like 118 but that was freakish), BMI of 18. Short term, actually water-only fasting for 8 days straight, still had my LDL at 138 upon testing. And trust me - or not - but I've done all I could think of diet-wise, consuming as little saturated fat as humanly possible, tons, TONS of fiber, including psyllium which is supposed to bring down LDL, all kinds of vegetables, tea and so on that's supposed to bring the lipids down. Nothing doing. Exercise quite a bit - no impact on LDL. My HDL is good though, never below 70 or so (there were years where I had it much higher, like 105), my triglycerides usually in the 50's. Only the LDL sucks, and as a result, my total cholesterol sucks - never below 200 (lowest I got it was 204, usually I hover around 210-220). 

And so I started taking statins - 5mg daily atorvastatin. Now my LDL is 73 and HDL at 70, TC 158 - completely impossible without statins.

So, IF high cholesterol causes heart disease, then I'm pretty sure you can't fix it with only diet or exercise in all cases. Although one strange wrinkle in all of this - there are all those calculators that calculate your odds of having heart problems within the next 10 years - and none of them showed my risk high enough to justify statins - my risk showed as quite low, I guess due to other factors like my BP being good etc. But despite the guidlines saying that I don't *have* to take statins, my doctor - and I agreed - thought that my LDL is high enough that it's concerning and a lowest dose statin could be helpful. Whether the statin does me any good is of course an unknown - it gets my cholesterol numbers down, but... who knows, the statin might even be a net negative. I'm rolling the dice anyhow.

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BTW, there are some emerging health businesses to try and let people know ahead of time if they might have emerging or unknown health issues. For example there is Health Nucleus from Craig Venter, using high sensitivity MRI and other imaging, they claim to be able to sometimes find earlier signs of cancer or cardiac issues:

 

https://www.healthnucleus.com/

 

Runs like $3k a year or something like that I heard, if you want to do an annual checkup.

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What an amazing new way to get unnessary treatments! Vast new numbers of stuff that left on its own would never develop into anything pathological. And even if those things do develop into f.ex. cancer, a lot of research shows the treatment does not prolong life or QOL, in fact it might diminish it compared to no treatment. 

And all this for a low, low yearly fee. Amazing, what the profit motive in medicine can accomplish!

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1 hour ago, TomBAvoider said:

What an amazing new way to get unnessary treatments! Vast new numbers of stuff that left on its own would never develop into anything pathological. ...

Yep, my take too.  My doctor dislikes these too, since you see a lot of "maybes" which must then be followed up (sometimes with invasive procedures), most often to nothing.

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Well it's definitely debatable in some respects, particularly in regards to cost, but I was reminded of it due to Brian May being so surprised at his poor arterial health. In this study that Human Longevity Inc did on over 1000 Health Nucleus patients, they were able to discover calcified artery plaque, valve flow problems, and other cardiac issues. Some of this is done with a cardiac CT calcium scan, not MRI. Also extensive blood tests and full genome scan are done. If you're a well off musician and can afford it, why wait until you have a heart attack to find out that your arteries are clogging up?

 

Precision medicine integrating whole-genome sequencing, comprehensive metabolomics, and advanced imaging

https://www.pnas.org/content/117/6/3053

https://www.humanlongevity.com/human-longevitys-largest-study-of-its-kind-shows-early-detection-of-disease-and-disease-risks-in-adults/

 

“This study shows that the definition of ‘healthy’ may not be what we think it is and depends upon a comprehensive health evaluation,” said J. Craig Venter, PhD

“Our traditional approach to the annual health assessment has been very superficial and will need to be replaced by data-driven measures that will be made possible as costs continue to decline for whole- genome sequencing, advanced imaging, especially MRI, and specialized blood analytics,” said David Karow, MD, PhD

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While this may give us more data, the problem is we often don't know how to evaluate such data. Say you find a small growth - there is no way of knowing whether that's something that needs to be treated or whether it will regress on its own. Cancer cells are formed all the time, and with frequency result in small growths - but a tremendous number of such are handled by our immune system, the same way invasive bacteria are handled on a daily basis. So now you see that small growth and what do you do with it? That's the whole idea behind "watchful waiting" in prostate cancer. And to top it off, there is very little evidence that early interventions do anything in any case, even when the cancer is malignant. 

Now, I'm not saying some things might not be useful - seeing that your arteries are blocked is definitely helpful. But one has to be super careful about knowing when it's useful and when it's just an expensive fishing expedition that may seriously lower your QOL and even health outcomes.

It's tricky. We have powerful tools. The problem is we don't have enough knowledge to always know how to best use such tools.

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13 hours ago, TomBAvoider said:

What an amazing new way to get unnessary treatments!

I found this Dr. Peter Attia podcast which discussed the evolution of high resolution full body MRI scanning interesting.  I think it could be of great value as it matures and the price comes down.  https://peterattiamd.com/rajpaulattariwala/

Here's a video showing some of the imaging from Prenuvo's full body MRI scanning although it is mostly views of body composition and not much of the super zoomed in views one would be looking at for early cancer detection. 

 

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12 hours ago, Ron Put said:

Have you had a whole body scan?

DEXA but not yet MRI although I'm interested for several reasons.  In addition to screening for cancer, cardiovascular calcifications, bone quality and a better look at past injuries such as a torn meniscus, dislocated shoulder, damaged cervical disc and TMJ, I think it could be excellent for body composition.  I've been getting DEXA scans every few months to help evaluate efforts to improve body composition in the context of having a supposedly untreatable progressive neuromuscular wasting disease, Kennedy's disease aka SBMA.  I believe a high resolution MRI could give a much better indication of changes in muscle mass and muscle quality as my disease involves accumulation of intramuscular fat which isn't imaged by DEXA.  But the inconvenience and cost of whole body MRI makes it unappealing for frequent use at this time.  Going for a single scan would have limited value but when it is practical to get scanned every few months like I do with DEXA it would facilitate sequential trials of lifestyle, diet and supplementation choices and better see their impacts.

Edited by Todd Allen
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