The Presidents' arteries, and what it means for you and yours.
George W had a positive stress test and received a stent to open up one (or was it more—we do not know) of his coronary (heart) arteries.
Was the stress test appropriate, and was the stent needed? Or could food choices have changed the need?
George W isn't the first President with arteries that show aging and plaque. Clinton's did. So did Reagan, and Ike and Harrison and Roosevelt's times two, and maybe every
President. Just look at Obama's hair, or Bill C's heart arteries before he radically changed his diet and stress levels - or you can look at Ike or Harrison or - chose any President - it is a job laden with aging stress.
We measured the rate of aging for each President by putting their public medical and other data into our RealAge program - see Sharecare.com
- they aged almost invariably 2 years for every year they were in office. And oh yes, like Clinton, they can change their diets and stress management after they leave office and get younger - so can you. But stress is the greatest ager. There are other potential causes - Bill C's diet of fries probably accelerated it, just as his Cleveland Clinic's Esselstyn diet (see Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
, the book) is reversing the process. Add that 24/7 Cable News scrutiny accelerates the stress on modern Presidents, just as medicine to control blood pressure and cholesterol slows it down. It's not that Bill C is avoiding the media - but now his public appearances focus on his works of doing well for others, and that almost certainly helps manage his stress.
And if I know George W's doc, the great Ken Cooper, George W's BP , Cholesterol, Triglycerides, and inflammatory marker (hsCRP) would have been and would be treated to normal, and an appropriate exercise pattern would have been encouraged, and almost certainly followed. George W. didn't smoke, seems lean, and probably ate pretty healthfully.
Why then did George W. get a stent? Did he need it? The answer is we do not know whether he had symptoms, etc, but we do know he was our President - which means he had enough stress to make him and his arteries probably more than 2 years older for each year he was President. And we do not know how well George W. controlled that stress. Maybe not well.
And that is the lesson for the rest of us - no matter how assiduously you avoid tobacco, no matter how religiously you do the three components of physical activity that decrease aging (you can learn 'em on the radio show
) , no matter how consistently you chose the right medications and supplements to control your BP, Cholesterol, Triglycerides, inflammatory markers, etc, you need to manage the inevitable stresses of life you will face, and practice that stress management daily.Stress is almost inevitable in American life today.
When we have tested "Perceived Stress" in working populations recently, it is much higher than was recorded in the same populations in 1980-83 by the same tests. We in medicine (especially at the Cleveland Clinic with our StressFreeNow
program) can easily and reproducibly teach you how to manage your stress so it doesn't age you – or at least age you so much.
But you must practice stress management daily. Me too. That's the lesson I take from George W's stent.
And that's Rule #6 of "Roizen's Rules For A Younger You®": "Practice Stress Management Daily"
Thanks for reading, Dr. Mike Roizen