President Clinton's Surgery Sparks Worry in Other Baby Boomers

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"He's a person that's the same generation as me and he's kind of had a lifestyle similar to mine," said Dave Aldrich of Okemos. Aldrich is like many others of his generation who say the former President's surgery "hit home."

Shari Lemonious of Detroit said it made her realize that at this age she needs to be talking to her doctor to find out what her risks really are.

Just two days after President Bill Clinton's quadruple bypass surgery, doctors say he is "recovering satisfactorily." Clinton checked into the hospital Friday complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath, but doctors say he had these symptoms for months.

Dr. Christopher D’Haem of the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Institute in Lansing says many people do not find out they have heart disease until they have a heart attack. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.

He says many people either don't recognize the symptoms or deny that something is wrong. The classic symptoms are a general pain or pressure on the chest that may radiate to the jaw or down the arms, but many people mistake symptoms of cardiac blockage with common ailments such as nausea or indigestion.

In order to make sure you are keeping your heart healthy, you should keep risk factors low. This means if you smoke, stop; avoid high fat foods; have your doctor check for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It's imperative to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol controlled and that may mean staying on prescribed drugs.

Unfortunately, noninvasive tests that look for heart blockage, such as a cardiac stress test, can miss five to ten percent of heart disease.

An angiogram and cardiac catherization is an invasive procedure only done when a patient has symptoms or is at high risk. This invasive test can find the heart blockage and treat it at the same time.

If you are not at high risk, you should be following up with your doctor so he or she can assess your risks.