Political Notebook

Obama gets clean bill of health, despite smoking, elevated cholesterol

Associated Press / March 1, 2010

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President Obama has not kicked the smoking habit, takes anti-inflammatory medication to relieve chronic tendinitis in his left knee, and should eat better to lower his cholesterol, his team of doctors concluded yesterday after his first medical checkup as commander in chief.

The chief executive, who has endured an exhausting White House run and yearlong battles with congressional Republicans, was declared in excellent health and fit for duty.

The president eats modest portions and exercises regularly. He is an avid basketball player and golfer. The slightly elevated cholesterol levels, tendinitis, and occasional smoking were the only negatives noted.

The White House physician, Navy Captain Jeffrey Kuhlman, said Obama should stick with the use of nicotine gum to avoid regular smoking. The president said at a June news conference that he still had an occasional cigarette. It was his first public acknowledgment that he had not kicked the habit.

Obama’s cholesterol levels have crept up to borderline high, and he should alter his diet accordingly, according to a report the White House released after the 90-minute examination at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

The president’s total cholesterol was up to 209, with his HDL (good cholesterol) at 62 and LDL (bad cholesterol) at 138. Borderline high cholesterol starts at 200, with LDL considered borderline high at 130.

The president was checked for and found free of colon cancer with a virtual colonoscopy, a scan that avoids the more invasive visual inspection with a camera device that is passed into the large intestine.

The report said Obama is 6-foot-1 and weighs 180 pounds in shoes and exercise clothing. His pulse rate is 56, which is very good, as is his blood pressure - 105 over 62. The doctor said Obama’s vision was 20/20 in both eyes for both distance and near vision.

GOP expects vote to extend unemployment benefits
The Senate’s second-ranking Republican said yesterday he expects GOP lawmakers will vote to extend unemployment benefits this week, derailing a fellow Republican’s objections.

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said on “Fox News Sunday’’ that the extension will pass, but only because it is temporary.

The benefits are part of a larger package of government programs that expired yesterday because senators could not agree on how to pay to keep them going. Democrats could not overcome the objections of Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky that the $10 billion measure would add to the budget deficit.

Kyl said a longer-term extension will cost much more, and Congress must find a way to pay for it before Republicans will go along.

The House passed a bill Thursday extending the programs for one month while lawmakers consider how to address the issues long-term. Senate Democrats tried in vain to follow suit Thursday night and Friday morning.

The bill would extend unemployment payments to laid-off workers and provide them with subsidies to help pay health premiums through the COBRA program. It would extend funding for highway projects and spare doctors from a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments. It would extend a small business loan program, the National Flood Insurance Program, and the copyright license used by satellite television providers.