Under Heavy Pressure, Trump Releases Video Condemning Capitol Siege

The president has also left open the possibility of pardoning himself, despite concern from Mr. Cipollone and warnings from outside advisers that he would inflame investigators who are already pursuing him.

Mr. Trump has never been more isolated than this week. The White House is sparsely staffed, according to people who went to work there on Wednesday. Those who did go to work tried to avoid the Oval Office.

More and more staff members have quit, and the White House Counsel’s Office is not preparing to defend him in the Senate trial. His political adviser, Jason Miller, posted on Twitter a poll from one of the campaign’s pollsters, John McLaughlin, that was intended to show the president’s grip on the party, as House Republicans debated their votes.

Plans to move Mr. Trump to another platform online after he was barred by Twitter have been halted. One option was the platform Gab, which has drawn extremists and QAnon conspiracy followers. Mr. Trump’s adviser Johnny McEntee favored the site, but Mr. Kushner blocked the move, according to people familiar with the discussions, which were reported earlier by Bloomberg News.

Mr. Giuliani is among those facing recriminations because of their involvement in inciting the mob that assaulted the Capitol. A group of former assistant U.S. attorneys who worked with him when he served as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan expressed dismay on Wednesday with his appearance at the rally beforehand.

In a letter, the group said that Mr. Giuliani’s comments, in which he urged Trump supporters to engage in “trial by combat” to stop the certification of the election results, contributed to the loss of life and inflicted damage on the country.

“It was jarring and totally disheartening to have seen one of our former colleagues engage in that conduct,” the former prosecutors said in the letter, which was signed by many Giuliani colleagues, including Kenneth Feinberg, Ira Lee Sorkin, Elliot Sagor and Richard Ben-Veniste.

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Blood Pressure Often Differs Widely Between Arms

The findings, published online Dec. 21 in the journal Hypertension, are based on 24 studies from around the world, involving almost 54,000 adults in all. Over 10 years, 11% had a fatal or non-fatal heart attack or stroke.

It’s normal, Clark said, to have a few points of variation in blood pressure between the two arms — due to anatomy and the fact that one hand is typically dominant.

“Our interest was to identify when that difference is large enough to be regarded as signifying more than this,” Clark said. “When is the difference large enough to suggest a change in the arteries that might signify additional risk of strokes or heart attacks?”

Overall, his team found, people’s risks started to climb when the two arms showed at least a 5-point difference in systolic blood pressure (the “top” number in a blood pressure reading).

For each 1-point increase, the risk of dying from heart disease causes in the next 10 years rose by 1% to 2%. Meanwhile, the odds of suffering a first-time heart problem or stroke also crept up.

Those increases were small, but the researchers said that a 10-point difference in systolic pressure between arms should be considered the “upper limit of normal.”

Between-arm differences are more common in people with high blood pressure, Clark said, but people with normal readings can have them, too.

The phenomenon matters more for someone with high blood pressure or other risk factors, like diabetes and high cholesterol, he added.

Berger said that it’s not clear why so few health care providers measure blood pressure in both arms.

“This is not a new finding,” he said of the current study. “It’s been shown many times.”

For now, Berger suggested patients ask questions the next time they have a blood pressure check: If it’s not being done in both arms, why not?

As for home blood pressure monitoring, he said, if people repeatedly detect a significant difference between the arms, they should tell their doctor.

Clark was also in favor of doctors checking both arms, at least once — in part to get a more accurate gauge of patients’ blood pressure. If one arm has a higher reading, he said, then future measurements should be taken on that arm.

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DC’s Hotel Harrington Closes for January 6 Pro-Trump March After Pressure Over Proud Boys

The Hotel Harrington and its companion Harry’s Bar will close for a three day period around the January 6 pro-Trump in Washington, D.C. The move comes after the hotel was called out by local liberal activists, elected officials and the Washington Post for serving as an unofficial headquarters for the Proud Boys during recent pro-Trump marches. The hotel bar was also fined by the D.C. government for not enforcing coronavirus mask mandates on weekends when the Proud Boys were there en masse.

The hotel will close January 4,5 and 6. Harry’s Bar will close the 5th and 6th.

The Proud Boys drew negative attention during the last pro-Trump protest by stealing Black Lives Matter banners from downtown Black churches and burning them near the hotel.

TRENDING: EXCLUSIVE: Senator Kelly Loeffler to Gateway Pundit: On Jan. 6, “Nothing is Off the Table” (VIDEO)

Excerpt from the Post article published Sunday night that got the desired result within 24 hours.

…Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, said in an interview, that in the past, the group’s members have stayed at the Harrington and frequented Harry’s because they’re accessible to downtown D.C. and close to the Trump hotel and the White House.

He said that the corner in front of the hotel and bar has remained a gathering point for the Proud Boys, but that the group had outgrown Harry’s because it wasn’t big enough to accommodate all of its members who attended the most recent protest, which he said numbered about 1,000.

Tarrio said the group’s members would not stay at the hotel or go to the bar if the businesses asked them to stay away.

…D.C. police spent much of the night trying to keep the groups apart and at one point established a police line along 15th Street NW. Unable to break through the barrier, a group of Proud Boys doubled back to the hotel holding a Black Lives Matter banner from a nearby church. They carried it in front of the Harrington and lit it on fire as members circled the flames yelling and hooting.

City officials later said four churches in downtown D.C. had Black Lives Matters signs removed and damaged. Tarrio told The Washington Post he was among those responsible for tearing down and burning the signs.

For the most part, police were successful in keeping the groups apart, but there were skirmishes. At least four people were stabbed during a melee near Harry’s. Police have declined to comment on the political affiliations of those involved.

The Post also reported there is a campaign to get other D.C. hotels to not rent rooms to any Trump supporters:

Downtown hotels also received calls and emails from D.C. residents and activists imploring them to deny service to visiting Trump supporters.

ShutDown DC organizers said they will continue to lobby business owners and city officials to do more. Harry’s, they said, will remain priority No. 1. The group launched an online petition this week calling on ABRA to revoke the bar’s liquor license.

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John Michael Higgins Talks ‘Pressure’ Taking on ‘Saved by the Bell’ Role

Big shoes to fill! John Michael Higgins opened up about the pressure he felt when taking on the role of Bayview High’s principal — a part that was previously held by Dennis Haskins across the Saved by the Bell franchise.

“I do feel the pressure. I don’t play the same man as Dennis Haskins does. My guy’s called Ronald Todman, and he just has the same job in the same building,” the Pitch Perfect actor, 57, told Us Weekly exclusively while promoting the show. “Many years have gone by, and my guy has a whole other set of problems than his guy does. But, yeah, I did feel the pressure to some extent.”

Higgins continued, “There was a huge fanbase for Saved by the Bell. They have very big memories, you know, memories that are very much alive, I’ve discovered. A lot of people keep wondering about little details and things like that.”

John Michael Higgins as Principal Ronald Toddman. Casey Durkin/Peacock

The America Says alum believes that longtime fans “will be very pleased” with how the new series revisits the Saved by the Bell world. Additionally, Higgins said that there are “Easter eggs and little references” to its predecessor.

Haskins, 71, played Principal Richard Belding in the Saved by the Bell franchise beginning in 1988. He starred on Good Morning, Miss Bliss for its solo season before reprising the role on Saved by the Bell from 1989 to 1993 and Saved by the Bell: The New Class from 1993 to 2000.

The Tennessee native has not been confirmed to return to the Peacock revival series, which will be released later this month.

John Michael Higgins Feels the Pressure of Taking on Saved by the Bell Role

Higgins raved about Haskins’ long tenure in the Saved by the Bell franchise. “It was a great run for him and it was a great performance,” he told Us of Haskins. “I admire him enormously.”

In December 2019, it was announced that Higgins would be joining the show as the newest principal of Bayview High. However, he revealed to Us that he had not watched the show until showrunner Tracy Wakefield approached him for the part.

“I went back and looked at a few of the episodes from the old four-camera show, and I was just delighted,” he shared. “I just thought, ‘Why are you remaking this? It’s perfect.’ You know, it’s so colorful and funny and all that stuff. But I think our version — we’d like to say a re-imagining, not a reboot, mostly because there are so many new characters — is slightly edgier in tone comedically.”

The Break-Up actor added, “The old show did do a lot of issues, you know, drugs [and such] — they did all these things. Almost every episode is someone bumping into some issue, and ours does too. But again, it’s an NBC comedy and here at NBC, we like to do funny first — at least in the comedy department. So, that’s our primary goal. Anything that gets said will probably make you laugh, and maybe think a little too.”

Original cast members Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley and Lark Voorhies are set to reprise their former roles. However, Berkeley, 48, recently admitted on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen that she is unsure whether OG star Dustin Diamond will return for the revival.

“We’ll see if there’s another season, maybe it’s something to explore,” she said on the Tuesday, November 17, episode.

The Saved by the Bell revival series will premiere on Peacock on Wednesday, November 25.

With reporting by Christina Garibaldi

Listen to Watch With Us to hear more about your favorite shows and for the latest TV news!

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Social Isolation Tied to High Blood Pressure in Women

Women who are socially isolated have an increased risk for high blood pressure, researchers report. But men, not so much.

Scientists used data on 28,238 Canadian men and women aged 45 to 85 who are participating in a large continuing study on aging.

The researchers found that compared with married women, single women had a 28 percent higher risk of hypertension, divorced women a 21 percent higher risk, and widowed women a 33 percent higher risk.

Social connections were also significant. Compared with the one-quarter of women with the largest social networks — which ranged from 220 to 573 people — those in the lowest one-quarter, with fewer than 85 connections, were 15 percent more likely to have high blood pressure.

The associations were different, and generally weaker, in men. Men who lived alone had a lower risk of hypertension than men with partners, but the size of men’s social networks, or their participation in social activity, was not significantly associated with high blood pressure.

The study, in the Journal of Hypertension, controlled for many factors that affect blood pressure, including age, education, smoking, alcohol use and depression.

The senior author, Annalijn I. Conklin, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, said that the most important finding is that social ties seem to be more meaningful for women than for men. “Social ties matter for cardiovascular health,” she said, “and they matter more for women.”

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Beware of Blood Pressure Changes at Night

Osborne said this study “is another signal that we really need to incorporate ambulatory blood pressure monitoring into the evaluation of high blood pressure. If we only see blood pressure during the day, it dramatically reduces our ability to assess overall risk.”

Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring allows doctors to see blood pressure levels over a 24-hour period, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Patients are fitted with a blood pressure cuff and sent home with a portable monitor that automatically inflates at regular intervals. The machine also records each blood pressure reading it takes in a day.

The current study included more than 6,300 Japanese adults. Their average age was 69. Almost half were men, and more than three-quarters were on blood pressure lowering medications. The average follow-up time was four years.

During the study, volunteers had 20 daytime and seven nighttime ambulatory blood pressure monitor readings.

So should everyone with high blood pressure get their nighttime blood pressure checked, too?

“The best answer right now is maybe. Keep in mind these were people with some existing cardiovascular disease risk factors [already],” Townsend explained. They were also all Japanese, and the findings might not be generalizable to other populations.

And, though it seems to be slowly changing, reimbursement for ambulatory blood pressure monitoring can be tough to get, Townsend said.

But, he added, “The take-home for me is that there is information available about an individual in their nighttime blood pressure patterns.”

Both Townsend and Osborne said changing the timing of blood pressure medications might help, but there’s not enough data to say for sure if it would. Both said more research is needed.

More information

Want to check your blood pressure at home? Visit Validate BP, a website from the American Medical Association that checks commercially sold blood pressure monitors to make sure they’re effective.

SOURCES: John Osborne, M.D., director, cardiology, State of the Heart Cardiology, Dallas; Raymond Townsend, M.D., American Heart Association, volunteer expert, and professor of medicine and director, hypertension program, University of Pennsylvania

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Dining News

When Professional Cooks Often Feel Pressure to Cook ‘Their’ Food

It’s never been easier for us to venture out of our native cuisines when cooking and pull inspiration from another culture’s foodways. But as writer Navneet Alang pointed out in Eater, for professionals, it’s a luxury most commonly reserved for white chefs and recipe developers.

They are the ones who are granted the freedom to cook from a “global pantry” of ingredients, and often find viral success for turning ingredients like turmeric, tahini, and gochujang into a “trend” — without necessarily paying homage to the ingredients’ roots. Meanwhile, chefs of color are often limited by what diners expect their food to look like and feel the consequences when they don’t live up to those expectations.

To reflect on this disparity and the many complicated issues around representation in food, we invited Alang into conversation along with chefs Sohla El-Waylly and Aaron Stewart, two pros who cook a wide variety of dishes with diverse origins that aren’t all necessarily “theirs,” at least by some onlookers’ standards.

Below you’ll find excerpts from their conversation, which took place as part of our Eater Talks series and was moderated by Eater staff writer Elazar Sontag, as well as a full recording of the panel.

For chefs of color, people’s assumptions about their food expertise is rooted in assumptions about their identities.

Navneet Alang: “As a writer rather than a cook, when I’m talking about food from my own culture — which would be Punjabi/North Indian culture — I can talk about it a bit more authoritatively. There’s a sense of legitimacy that comes from it, even though I was born in London and grew up in Canada. I still feel like I have this authority that doesn’t translate when I talk about say, Korean cuisine or Mexican cuisine.”

Sohla El-Waylly: “Up until very recently, everywhere I’ve worked, they just wanted me to make brown food. Which was really confusing to me because I actually don’t have a lot of experience cooking that kind of food. I grew up eating it, but I was trained in French cuisine and I worked in an Italian restaurant and I never really saw myself that way; so it was in food media where I first felt very brown. I’m finally having the opportunity to learn about what food I really care about because I’m not just creating the food that people think I should be good at.”

Aaron Stewart: “I think now I’m three years into the business [of cooking Mexican food as a Black chef], it’s getting a lot easier, but in the beginning it was very challenging because people have their perceptions of how things should be. So when they see a Black guy with food, a lot of them — 9 out of 10 — think I’m just doing barbecue. And the Mexicans who come in that find me with Mexican food are iffy too. There was this weird tension from both sides.

I didn’t see anything wrong with it, because these are the people I grew up with and the Mexican culture was always a part of my life; so I didn’t think twice until I started doing it and I had to explain myself to people. I always had faith in what I was doing was right and that it was coming from a right place, I just needed to interpret that to everyone else so maybe they could see where I’m coming from.”

Where cuisine ownership — what is “your food” — starts and ends isn’t as clear as some would assume.

Alang: “The most obvious way [to establish authority of a certain cuisine] is to connect it to an ethnic or racial identity. [But] I also feel that is both the upside of talking about cultural appropriation but there’s also a risk in that. I think linking culture to your body and your skin color is something that doesn’t make a lot of sense. For someone like myself, who has grown up in the West but is of Indian heritage, the question of which is my culture is one that doesn’t have a neat answer. The question of who own’s what is a bit fuzzier perhaps than we’d like to acknowledge sometimes.”

Stewart: “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to figure out in my days as being a chef and trying to create something of my own as me being African American, and [answering] what is my culture in food. I grew up in America and this is what I know, so for somebody to tell me that I should stick to barbecue, which isn’t just an African American thing…

I believe that once you put your own experience, your own flavor profile, or your own heart into whatever you’re cooking, then that becomes yours. It’s one thing to just cook Asian food or Bengali food… but once I start putting my experience and my taste into that, I think it becomes mine. Yes, you have to learn how to respect and pay homage to what you’re gathering from. But once you start putting your own into it, it becomes your own.”

El-Waylly: “People see that I’m brown, and so I should know everything about brown food and that’s ‘my food.’ But I think that’s the food that I feel the least attached to, because I grew up in America, in LA, so I grew up eating a lot of Mexican food and Filipino food and Vietnamese food, and I too really like hot dogs for the Fourth of July and things like that. So it’s tough when people link your food to your ethnicity, because I think it’s more complicated than that. I think it’s about the food you grew up with, which I don’t think necessarily is the food of the way you look. It’s about the food you grew up with, the food you love, the food you know — and that doesn’t mean you can’t love and get to know other food. But it’s all about paying respect to the roots where things are coming from.”

Culinary exploration — especially when cooking for others — should be accompanied by thoughtful consideration.

Stewart: “When you’re at home, nobody is there to judge you, you’re not trying to profit, and you’re enjoying cooking in your own home — which to me, the rules are off there. You’re cooking, you’re learning, you’re trying different things and the home is where it all starts for a lot of cooks and writers. But once you step outside that place, there’s different rules.”

Sohla: “There’s a difference between cooking at home for yourself versus people like us who are cooking and writing for the public. At home, you should do whatever the hell you want to do. But we [professionals] have a responsibility because we’re influencing a lot of people with our recipes and our words. So I think it’s about putting context behind things, not just taking za’atar and throwing it on a pizza and not explaining how, ‘Hey, this is like manakish, this comes from somewhere.’ I think that’s when it goes to appropriating and not just appreciation.”

Alang: “I’ve always said the same thing: that in your own home you should cook whatever you want. But I’m wondering maybe there’s a difference between the things you cook for yourself and the things that you cook for other people. Only because I’m imaging the context of having a dinner party or something like that where you invite friends over and I think it’s very easy in that kind of situation to slip into the kind of exoticization to be like, ‘We’re going to take a trip to the tropics!’ I hate the idea of telling someone that you shouldn’t do what you want in your own home, but maybe there is sometimes a risk of perpetuating the kind of exoticization of ‘foreign’ foods when you cook for other people rather than when you cook for yourself.”

Watch the entire panel conversation:

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Breaking New

The Pressure to Be Perfect Turns Deadly for Celebrities in Japan

TOKYO — From the outside, Yuko Takeuchi seemed to have a golden life. She had won Japan’s top acting award three times, and had recently given birth to her second child. A graceful beauty, she appeared in a box office favorite last year and advertisements for a top ramen brand.

Ms. Takeuchi, 40, died late last month in an apparent suicide. No one can fully know what private torment might have lurked beneath the surface, but in a Japanese society that values “gaman” — endurance or self-denial — many feel pressure to hide their personal struggles. The burden is compounded for celebrities whose professional success depends on projecting a flawless ideal.

Ms. Takeuchi is the latest in a succession of Japanese film and television stars who have taken their own lives this year. Her death came less than two weeks after the suicide of another actress, Sei Ashina, 36, and two months after Haruma Miura, 30, a popular television actor, was found dead in his home, leaving a suicide note.

Earlier this year, Hana Kimura, a professional wrestler and star of “Terrace House,” a reality show, took her own life after relentless bullying on social media. Aside from Ms. Kimura, none of the other celebrities who died in suicides had shown any public signs of emotional distress.

Their deaths have been echoed by an alarming rise in suicides within Japan’s general public during the coronavirus pandemic, after a decade of hard-won decline from some of the highest rates in the world. The authorities reported a nearly 16 percent increase in suicides in August compared with a year earlier, with the number spiking by 74 percent among teenage girls and women in their 20s and 30s.

“As a society, we feel like we cannot show our weaknesses, that we must hold all of it in,” said Yasuyuki Shimizu, director of the Japan Suicide Countermeasures Promotion Center. “It’s not just that people feel like they can’t go to a counselor or a therapist, but many feel like they cannot even show their weaknesses to the people they are close to.”

Other strains are more universal. The Japanese, like many others, bow to the ruthless demands of social media, where people feel they must cultivate a narrative of eternal success and happiness. “This can definitely be a cause for spiraling into a depression” if your reality does not match someone else’s curated portrait, Mr. Shimizu said.

Even away from social media, the Japanese tend to project a positive public front. There is a strict division between “uchi” (the home or inside) and “soto” (outside), with emotions — particularly messy ones — restricted to the private sphere.

People also feel that they must conform to rules and not stand out in ways that could be perceived as burdening others.

During the pandemic, this social tendency has actually helped the country avoid a surge in cases and deaths, because the public followed suggestions about wearing masks, avoiding crowded indoor venues, and practicing good hygiene and social distancing without the imposition of a strict lockdown.

“So in this sense, a not-so-great quality was an advantage,” said Toshihiko Matsumoto, director of the drug addiction center at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health. “However, this also means that in terms of mental health, people don’t want to seek help and stick out from the crowd.”

Yet help is exactly what many people have needed during the pandemic: Some have lost work or experienced drastic changes in their jobs, while many others have been unable to spend time with friends or have been cut off from visiting extended family.

Women, especially, have been thrown into stressful situations. During the period when schools were closed and many employees worked from home, families were crammed together in small homes.

While some men who have suddenly spent more time at home have pitched in on housework and child care, others have still left the bulk of it to their wives. “There are women at home with husbands working at home, and this can be very suffocating for the women,” Dr. Matsumoto said.

In the 1990s, after a devastating economic recession caused hundreds of thousands of layoffs, suicides in Japan began to rise dramatically as mostly middle-aged men took their lives out of the shame and stress of sudden unemployment.

Now strains have been growing on women, an increasing proportion of whom are juggling work and home life. The stress may be translating into more suicides among women, said Junko Kitanaka, a medical anthropologist at Keio University.

For celebrities, the normal societal pressures can be magnified by the expectations of millions of fans.

And unlike in the United States, where celebrities now talk more openly about seeking out psychological help, such behavior is largely taboo in Japan, which has been slower to develop mental health services, despite some improvement.

“If you are a person in the spotlight and the media finds out that you are receiving mental health support, that would play badly for you and your career,” said Tamaki Tsuda, a television producer. “If you go out once for mental illness, that’s the image that will be tacked on to your brand forever. And when that happens, fewer and fewer job offers will come in.”

The pandemic has been particularly tough for those in show business, as television and film production has been suspended or altered because of virus protection protocols.

“People in the entertainment industry lost their gigs in an instant when the coronavirus hit, so it’s been an extreme blow,” Ms. Tsuda said. “A lot of these actors were given blank schedules over the past few months from their management companies.”

Even a temporary halt in work can fuel insecurity about losing out to a new crop of performers waiting to be minted as the latest stars.

“Unfortunately, with the Japanese mentality, we have the tendency to blame ourselves,” said Hiromichi Shizume, another television producer. The entertainers think “‘maybe I’m not getting hired because I’m not good enough.’”

Still, public sympathy can be limited, with stars quickly criticized for any behavior that fans deem insufficiently grateful for their celebrity. Even in death, Ms. Takeuchi, the award-winning actress, has been subjected to condemnation, including references to her wealth and material comfort.

“As usual until just before, everything was fine,” one person wrote on Twitter. “Would you commit suicide leaving two children behind? Such an irresponsible person cannot be a big actress. It’s not even like she had financial issues or chronic illness.”

“The rent of Yuko Takeuchi’s apartment cost 1.85 million yen,” or about $17,600, another posted. “Does this mean that money can’t make us happy?”

At a news conference the day after her death, Katsunobu Kato, chief cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, said he was concerned that reports of the celebrity suicides themselves might prompt others to take their lives.

“In order for people not to feel isolated with their own worries, we must work together to build a society where we can warmly support and watch over each other,” he said.

Experts on suicide said they were wary of vague government promises.

“They say we should create a society where nobody feels lonely,” said Michiko Ueda, a professor of political science at Waseda University in Tokyo who has researched suicide. “But as is typical with any Japanese government plan, there is no concrete plan.” She added: “We can’t change society in one day.”

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to for a list of additional resources. In Japan, call TELL Lifeline at 03-5774-0992 or go to

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Cheer’s Monica Aldama Feels Pressure to Win ‘DWTS’

Feeling the pressure. Monica Aldama knows Cheer fans are expecting big things from her on Dancing With the Stars due to her competitive nature and cheerleading background.

“There is kind of this insinuation that since I’ve won so many times, I would automatically win this competition,” the 50-year-old Navarro College cheer coach told Us Weekly exclusively while promoting her partnership with Robitussin Naturals. “I think there are things that I can bring as far as how to prepare for competition, physically and mentally, and my work ethic. … Those are things that I can bring that are going to be to my advantage, but because the bigger part of this is actually the dancing, and I have zero experience.”

Aldama and partner Val Chmerkovskiy received a 19 out of 30 for their Foxtrot to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts during the Monday, September 14, premiere of the ABC competition series.

Monica Aldama and Val Chmerkovskiy ABC/Eric McCandless

“It’s so different than cheerleading … the muscles that I use the way, that I carry my shoulders, all of that, I mean, I’ve gotten told at least 1,000 times to keep my shoulders down,” she told Us. “And so, it’s been a challenge to really retrain my body to do things differently and to be in certain positions that feel very unnatural to me. I think there’s a ton of pressure because people do expect me to come out here and bring it and I do plan on doing that. I just it’s been very difficult to learn something that I don’t know how to do.”

As the dancing duo prepares for week two, they are working on a Jive number. And while Aldama feels comfortable with the faster paced dance, she isn’t looking forward to taking on a Salsa or Rumba.

“The Latin dances with all of the hip action I’m a little bit terrified to learn all of those,” she admitted. “We’re doing the Jive next week. So it’s really fast — really, really fast. But it’s a little bit more of my comfort zone because I’m more free to move different ways with my body than being in such an awkward frame that feels very unnatural. But, it is fast, so we’ll see how it goes. Those Latin dances are a little scary.”

Cheer's Monica Aldama Feels Pressure to Win DWTS
Monica Aldama ABC/Kelsey McNeal

For now, Aldama is soaking in the “neat” experience with new friends Chrishell Stause and Anne Heche. “My trailer is right next to Chrishell, so I get to talk to her a lot. She’s super sweet. And Anne Heche is hilarious,” she gushed. “And she really is so funny. Everybody is great.”

She’s also finding time to help Robitussin launch their new cough relief and immune health gummies and syrups.

“I’ve been a user of Robitussin for as long as I can remember. I’ve got two children so, you know, you always have that on hand,” she told Us. “I’m really excited that they’re coming out with these are all-natural products to help with cough relief, because obviously with my job, you know, I have to use my voice a lot. I have to talk a lot. … The gummies are so easy to just keep in your pocket and pop one in!”

Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

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Blood Pressure Meds Can Affect COVID-19 Care

Overall, having a history of high blood pressure increased a person’s risk of kidney injury about fivefold, the Italian study found.

A third study digging deeper into this phenomenon found that common blood pressure meds were associated with an increased risk of death among COVID-19 patients.

The researchers tracked 172 people hospitalized for COVID-19 at the University of Miami/JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, Fla. The investigators found that 33% of people taking either angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) died in the hospital, compared with 13% of people not taking either drug.

COVID-19 patients were also more likely to land in the intensive care unit if they were taking one of these blood pressure meds — 28% of those with a prescription versus 13% not taking either drug.

Dr. Vivek Bhalla, director of the Stanford Hypertension Center in California, said it’s not very likely that these blood pressure medications in themselves are harmful to COVID-19 patients.

Instead, “the medicines are markers of the underlying disease for which they were prescribed,” Bhalla said.

“For example, patients with [high blood pressure] or diabetes have worse outcomes with COVID-19, and these are the same patients that are commonly prescribed ACE inhibitors and ARBs,” Bhalla said. “Other blood pressure medications may be associated with severity of COVID-19 if one considers that low blood pressure, perhaps due to use of these medications, may be associated with higher mortality.”

If they contract COVID-19, people with high blood pressure should talk with their doctor for guidance on taking their medication, Bhalla said.

“In general, current data suggest that the medications themselves are not harmful, and the consequences of stopping these medications are well-documented,” Bhalla said. “However, if folks feel that they are not eating as much as they normally do, or have symptoms that lead to dehydration, such as vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, or excessive sweating, then it is very reasonable to temporarily hold their higher blood pressure medication until their symptoms resolve.”

Doctors should assess COVID-19 patients and not keep them on blood pressure meds if their blood pressure drops or they have other troubling symptoms, Bhalla said.

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