Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Hillary, Dillary, Doc

The Man Without Qualities has sometimes suggested that the recent woes of the Walt Disney Company may be attributable to Michael Eisner's becoming a "pump head" following his emergency cardiac bypass surgery. Now Bill Clinton has joined Mr. Eisner as a quadruple emergency bypass patient - and prospective pump head.

While there is no guaranty that Mr. Clinton will be afflicted, the chances appear to be high that he may become what cardiologists call "a pump head." A Duke University study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine in February, 2001, found that a substantial proportion of patients after coronary artery bypass surgery experience measurable impairment in their mental capabilities. Surgeons privately know this effect as "pump head." In the study, patients were tested for their cognitive capacity (i.e. mental ability) before surgery, six weeks, six months, and five years after bypass surgery. Patients were deemed to have significant impairment if they had a 20% decrease in test scores. This study had three major findings1) Cognitive impairment occurs after bypass surgery. 2) 42% of patients became impaired.3) The impairment was not temporary.

Also, the decline in mental capacity in those who had bypass surgery was 2 -3 times higher over five years than in patients who did not have surgery.

"Pump head' is not the same thing as depression - although the symptoms are similar. Earlier studies had indicated that cardiac bypass surgery does not cause true depression.Similarly, experts such as Guy McKhann, M.D., director of the Mind-Brain Institute, say that "Research has shown that anywhere from 25 to 80 percent of cardiac surgery patients experience postoperative declines in their mental abilities--problems with memory, verbal skills or physical coordination."

The mysterious cause of "pump head" may have been found! Specifically, a report by Duke University Medical Center claims that gastrointestinal bacteria are the culprit for cognitive impairment following bypass surgery. Bypass surgery requires use of a heart-lung machine. Gut bacteria release endo-toxins that cause an increase in inflammatory response associated with the heart-lung machine which leads to greater cognitive dysfunction.

So, as noted in a prior post, it comes to this: Bacteria intended by nature to influence only the processes that result in the production of human feces may be having a profound effect on the products of Michael Eisner's brain - and now on Bill Clinton's brain, and, through it, Hillary's 2008 Presidential race. That's because Senator Clinton is widely believed to be counting on her husband to be her chief campaign advisor in that run. But sometimes things just don't work out quite the way we want or expect.

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