A spokesperson for George W. Bush’s office announced that the former President underwent heart surgery on Tuesday. He loves to exercise, seems lean and probably keeps a healthy diet. Then why did he need a stent to open a blocked artery?
While we don’t know whether he had symptoms, we do know he was our President for eight years – which means he had enough stress to make him and his arteries two years older for each year in office. Look at President Obama’s hair, or Bill Clinton’s heart arteries. Or you can choose any President – it is a job laden with aging stress. We measured all of the Presidents by putting their public medical and other data into our RealAge program. They aged almost invariably two years for every year they were in office. It’s likely easier for them to change their diets and stress management after they leave office, as President Clinton did – which may help reverse some of the damage caused by unhealthy behavior.
There is a lesson for the rest of us here. No matter how assiduously you avoid tobacco and secondhand smoke, no matter how much you exercise, no matter how consistently you choose the right medications and supplements, you need to manage the inevitable stresses of life you will face, and practice stress-management techniques daily.
Stress is almost inevitable in American life today. It’s probably worse for the President considering the consistent scrutiny and 24/7 news cycle. My colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic’s StressFreeNow program can easily and reproducibly teach you how to manage your stress so it doesn’t age you – or at least doesn’t age you so much. If you’d like to learn how stress is having an impact on your health, take the RealAge test and see how you stack up.