Lasorda Gets to the Heart of Health Matters Lifestyle Changes Serve as Preventive Medicine

Article excerpt

Byline: Joan G. Broz Daily Herald Correspondent

Tommy Lasorda knows he's one of the lucky ones.

The former Los Angeles Dodgers manager and Hall-of-Famer survived a heart attack a few years ago and now is spokesman for the American Heart Association.

"In baseball, you get three strikes," he told a Naperville audience Friday night. "When it comes to your heart, you might not."

Lasorda and Dr. Vincent Bufalino, American Heart Physician of the Year, teamed up to help the Edward Cardiovascular Institute celebrate National Heart Month.

Bufalino called heart disease a "huge epidemic."

"Every 32 seconds someone in the United States dies of heart disease," he said. "Sixty percent die before we have a chance to save them. Each year, we spend $150 billion to take care of a preventable disease."

Prior to his heart attack, Lasorda said his cholesterol was 258. Now, through diet, exercise and stress management, it's at 150.

An ex-smoker, Lasorda said he used to joke about his sedentary lifestyle. Now he travels around the country preaching the importance of exercise and urging people to "start taking better control of your health."

The largely male audience learned that statistically, women today have more heart-related problems than men. The two leading factors contributing to the gender shift are smoking and stress, Bufalino said.

When the tobacco industry advertised, "You've come a long way baby," it actually was pitching heart ailments, the doctor said.

Roughly one-third of kids who start to smoke die of a smoking-related death, he said. …