Lesson of George Bush's Heart Crisis: Get a Stress Test

Wednesday, 07 Aug 2013 11:38 AM

By Nick Tate

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Former President George W. Bush’s heart crisis this week should prompt every middle-aged American — rich or poor, man or woman — to have a stress test to rule out hidden, underlying cardiovascular disease, a top cardiologist tells Newsmax’s Steve Malberg.

Chauncey Crandall, M.D., says the take-home message of the 67-year-old ex-president’s experience is that stress is a key driver of heart disease and most Americans aren’t doing enough to address it.
 
"American Society is built on stress and wherever we look there’s chaos — chaos on TV, chaos in the paper, chaos at work, " notes Dr. Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. "Everything is revved up, so I would really make a strong recommendation that starting in their mid-40s everyone should get a stress test.
 
Dr. Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report, also believes it's important not to wait until middle age to start managing stress and your heart health.

Story Continues Below Video.
 
 
"Of course we should get blood work looking at our cholesterol and sugar before the age of 45," he says. "But for all men, and women as well — I would make a strong argument for them too because they’re in the workforce and they have additional stress in their life — [they] should get a stress test, and make sure [to] get a yearly physical.
 
"We take our car in, we get the oil changed, but we don’t get our yearly physical and you know doctors can help you, they can reverse heart disease and do great things."
 
Bush is recovering from the implantation of a cardiac stent, designed to restore blood flow to one of his coronary arteries to prevent a heart attack. The blockage was discovered in one of the three main arteries of his heart during a stress test performed as part of a regular physical, according to reports.
 
"He had a stress test … he’s in good shape, he walked on the treadmill. They did another test with it called a nuclear cardiology portion of the stress test and this test showed a significant defect in one of the (3) main arteries of the heart," Dr. Crandall notes.

"One of them clearly showed a blockage and it probably was in one of the main branches of the heart and that’s what led to the treatment with a coronary stent. I suspect he was probably … having symptoms prior to the stress test and those symptoms were concerning enough that they put him through the stress test and made the diagnosis that he has heart disease."
 
Dr. Crandall says Bush’s prognosis for complete recovery is very good, but his case is a cautionary tale about the hazards of stress, even to otherwise healthy individuals.
 
"The people who did this are excellent, and the results I’m sure are very good and his outcome is going to be excellent," he says.
 
"The main thing is we see this type of disease in many people who are in excellent shape. Usually these people eat poorly and often many of them are under great stress. President Bush was under tremendous stress as president and stress is one of the main driving forces of heart disease. Even though you physically look good like this president, you’re under tremendous stress and stress inside the heart causes damage, it causes elevation of blood sugar, and it causes inflammatory factors and cholesterol, and all sorts of inflammatory mediators, so stress is a killer [and] a powerful predictor of heart disease."
 
He notes anyone who faces a great deal stress — whether from a high-pressure job or from the everyday struggles of daily life — needs to  manage it and recognize the potential for cardiac problems.
 
"It’s very important…to get your stress test, get your check up [because if] we find something we can reverse it," Dr.Crandall says. "The good news for the president is that ... by going on a very aggressive program of cholesterol reduction and stress reduction and improvement in other areas, we can reverse heart disease."

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