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Physical exam finds president in superior shape



Published: Sat, July 30, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Nine doctors signed a statement saying they expect him to remain fit.

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) -- President Bush was pronounced "fit for duty" after an annual checkup Saturday that showed that the 59-year-old commander in chief, an avid mountain bike rider, has lost 8 pounds since his last physical exam in December.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Bush said as he left the National Naval Medical Center in suburban Washington.

In December, Bush weighed 199.6 pounds, six pounds more than in the summer of 2003. He attributed the weight gain to munching too many doughnuts during his re-election campaign.

On Saturday, the scale showed the nearly 6-foot Bush at 191.6 pounds.

A four-page medical summary issued by the White House said Bush remains in the "superior" fitness category for a man of his age.

A separate statement signed by nine doctors who conducted the physical said there is "every reasonable expectation that he will remain fit for duty for the duration of his presidency."

Thorough probe

Doctors prodded and probed the president for a little more than three hours, checking his heart, lungs, eyes, muscles and skin.

Doctors used liquid nitrogen to freeze a noncancerous skin growth on his neck. The medical summary indicated the president has skin lesions consistent with sun damage and recommended that he use sunscreen and wear a hat.

Bush scored above average on a wide range of tests.

Bush's overall cholesterol count remains at a healthy level, despite a slight rise to 178 from 170 seven months ago. There was a small drop in his high-density lipoprotein count, or "good" cholesterol, and a small rise in his low-density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol. Still, both levels were within healthy ranges.

Doctors said cholesterol-lowering drugs were not necessary. The president was advised to continue healthy eating and exercise habits.

"He's in superior health," White House spokesman Dana Perino told reporters after Bush returned to the White House.

The president's medical profile shows a low to very low risk of coronary artery disease. His resting pulse rate dropped to 47 beats per minute from 52. Well-trained athletes typically have resting pulse rate of between 40 and 60 beats per minute.

Doctors made Bush run on a treadmill for more than 26 minutes as part of a test that evaluates the performance of his heart. His heart beat reached 183 beats per minute; no signs or symptoms of cardiovascular problems were noted.

Other details

Other information from Bush's checkup included:

* His body fat percentage fell to 15.79 from 18.25. It was 14.5 percent at his physical in August 2003.

* His ability to see at a distance was 20/20 in both eyes. He uses reading glasses at times to see more clearly up-close.

* A prostate screening test registered at 0.5. A desirable level is anything under 4.

* Bush suffers from occasional reflux of stomach acid after drinking coffee or eating peppermint, two items that doctors recommended he reduce or eliminate from his diet.

* His exercise regimen includes pedaling his mountain bike at up to 18 miles an hour for 15 miles to 20 miles a week; doing low-impact "hill work" on a treadmill; and free weight resistance training and stretching.

* He smokes a cigar now and then, takes a daily multivitamin, low-dose aspirin, Omega 3 fatty acids linked to lower heart disease and glucosamine/chondroitin to ease stiffness in his joints. After his exam, Bush met for more than an hour with 14 Marines wounded in Iraq and relatives of a Marine who was wounded in Afghanistan.




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