And the Winner Is…

This morning’s headlines are full of the news from last nights Oscar’s.  The winners, the acceptance speeches, the dresses, the drama.

SRxA’s Word on Health is not going to add to the speculation over the alleged JLo wardrobe malfunction, or weigh in on Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Dictator spilling ‘ashes’ all over Ryan Seacrest. Instead, we’re taking a look at the accuracy of some of the health themes explored in two of the night’s biggest winners.

The Artist picked up five awards including best picture, best actor and best director. We also give it our nod for the way in which it depicted carbon monoxide poisoning.

In the film, George Valentin, a fading, former film icon is bereft and broke. Realizing that studios no longer want to hire him, in a fit of drunken depression, he sets fire to his films. Smoke fills his squalid apartment and George passes out.  Fortunately for him, his faithful dog escapes, alerts a policeman who is then able to save the dying George just in the nick of time.

A true Hollywood happy ending of course, but also an accurate portrayal of carbon monoxide poisoning. In the 1920’s, film was made from nitrocellulose, which is highly flammable. As it burns it produces smoke and carbon monoxide.  Victims of this odorless gas typically become light-headed, confused and then pass out. If enough carbon monoxide is present, people die of asphyxiation.

The Iron Lady, resulted in a well-deserved 3rd Oscar for Hollywood leading lady, Meryl Streep. Her brilliant portrayal of the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher provided an insightful look at her descent into Alzheimer’s-type dementia.  The movie intersperses Thatcher’s victories as Britain’s first female leader with the disease that has dominated her recent years.

Her character displays textbook dementia: memory loss, forgetfulness, hallucinations, talking to ghosts, moments of clarity interrupted by profound paranoia and denial.

As anybody who has taken care of an aging parent with dementia will know all too well, in the early stages, patients deny, deny, deny that anything is wrong, probably because they reality of what they are facing is just too devastating.

Word on Health congratulates all the Oscar winners and those behind the scenes for their realistic health insights.