Throughout history, citizens have tended to deify their leaders, wanting to believe their health to be indelible and their morality to be infallible. While contemporary politics and constant media have made citizenry slightly wiser, as the Ancient Roman philosopher Seneca suggests, it is still difficult to watch men of stature falter.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, 63, who underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2004, was admitted to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City on Feb. 11 to have two stents implanted in his left circumflex artery by Drs. Mark Apfelbaum and Michael Collins.
Clinton was released from the hospital in less than 24 hours “in excellent health,” according to both his physicians and his office.
In response to his release, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) said Clinton's treatment “serves as a reminder of the importance of utilizing the full range of medical and device treatments for patients with heart disease. Medication, angioplasty, stents and bypass surgery all play a key role—often complementing one other—in treating and saving thousands of heart patients' lives each year.”
Since his release, the former president has attributed his current health problems to the eating habits he acquired in his childhood. “Mostly the way I ate and the way it interacted with my own biology and propensity to produce bad cholesterol,” said Clinton at a press conference Wednesday. “I ate too much fried food, too much ice cream, too much everything.”
Clinton, as well as a new initiative from First Lady Michelle Obama, is attempting to appeal to youths to adopt better eating and lifestyle habits. In attempting to tackle childhood obesity, they are applying a preventive approach to overcome long-term, potentially life-threatening and costly, health problems.
To elucidate these efforts, a study in today’s NEJM found that reducing dietary salt by 3 grams per day could substantially reduce cardiovascular events and medical costs and should be a public health target in the U.S. However, the accompanying editorial questions how effective this attempt would be, especially due to the fact that most Americans’ salt intake, including children, is well above the current daily recommended upper limit of 5.8 grams.
Clinton has used his health problems, which are partly behavioral in origin, to attempt to educate other potential heart patients—once again harkening to Seneca’s words: A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.
On these topics, or any others, please feel free to contact me.
Justine Cadet, Managing Editor