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Obama in great health but struggles with smoking

8:42 AM
Obama in great health but struggles with smoking

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama is in overall "excellent health" but still struggles with a smoking habit, his doctors said in a report after Obama had a routine medical exam on Sunday.

Obama, 48, visited the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland for a 90-minute checkup, his first since taking office just over a year ago.

A team of doctors led by Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman, the chief White House physician, found Obama to be "fit for duty" and said he was likely to remain so for the rest of his presidency.

But the doctors recommended that he continue his "smoking cessation efforts" and also that he change his diet to bring down a cholesterol level that is borderline high.

The 6-foot-1-inch Obama, who weighs 180 pounds (81.5 kg), exercises every day, including jogging on a treadmill and lifting weights. He also plays basketball and golf and generally favors a diet of healthy foods.

Obama's resting heart rate was 56 beats per minute and his blood pressure was 105/62 -- both very healthy ranges.

The report said Obama uses a "nicotine replacement therapy," which suggests he has been trying to quit smoking.

Last June, when asked if he still smoked cigarettes, Obama said he was "95 percent cured" but added "there are times when I mess up."

Obama last had a medical exam in July 2008.

During his presidential campaign, in May of 2008, his campaign released a summary of an exam Obama had in January 2007 that also showed him to be in excellent health.

Obama's cholesterol levels have risen since 2007.

His latest exam found that his overall cholesterol was 209, slightly above the normal level of 200. His level of LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, was 138 and his doctor recommended that he try to reduce that to 130 through changes in his diet.

In the 2007 exam, Obama's overall cholesterol level was 173 and his LDL cholesterol was 96.

Obama suffers from occasional pain in his left knee, a common injury in people who run. Kuhlman suggested that he modify his exercise regime and include a strengthening program for the knee.

The doctor recommended that Obama have his next checkup in August 2011, when he turns 50.

While at the medical center, Obama also visited with troops wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Obama's family medical history includes his mother's death from ovarian cancer and a grandfather who died of prostate cancer.

(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe and Maggie Fox; Writing by Caren Bohan; Editing by Sandra Maler)

By Caren Bohan


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