Sports radio personality Mike Bell, 44, admits he has not had a physical exam in five years – and he hasn’t exactly been living a healthy lifestyle. Bell smoked for seven years and likes to indulge in greasy foods.
With his wedding on the horizon and a family history of heart attack and hypertension (his mother has high blood pressure and his father passed away from a heart attack at age 51), Bell decided it was time to take charge of his health – and maybe even inspire his listeners in the process.
“I’m not the healthiest guy,” said Bell prior to the exam. “I’m a little bit nervous about heading down to Piedmont Hospital and having my first physical in five years.”
Bell admitted he was nervous to learn his cholesterol and blood pressure numbers, but “these are questions guys our age need to get the answers to.”
The exam and results
When Bell arrived at his appointment, a nurse began by measuring his height and weight to determine his body mass index (BMI). A BMI of 30 and above is considered overweight, while 37 and higher is categorized as morbidly obese. At 5’7 and 240 lbs, Bell’s BMI was 37.1.
“Do big shoulders count for anything?” he joked.
“If you played for the Falcons, it might have counted, but since you don’t…,” laughed Dr. Harrigan. “People with larger muscle mass are going to have higher BMIs, but your fitness level is going to dictate [how healthy you are].”
The nurse then checked Bell’s pulse (83), oxygen level (96) and temperature (97.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Dr. Harrigan addressed Bell’s high blood pressure, which was 146/90 (120/80 or below is ideal).
“Studies have shown that when the blood pressure stays in [the ideal] range, your risk for cardiovascular disease is significantly less,” said Dr. Harrigan.
His cholesterol was 301, which is also high. A number above 240 raises the risk of heart disease.
Bell also had a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which screens for prostate cancer. His number was .87. A number below 4.0 is generally considered normal, but the most important factor Dr. Harrigan considers is whether or not the level fluctuates. This is why it is important for men to have regular conversations with their doctor about prostate health.
After these numbers were measured, Bell had an electrocardiogram (EKG), which checks the electrical activity of the heart. An EKG is especially important when heart disease risk factors are present, such as family history or high cholesterol. Fortunately for Bell, his EKG reading was normal, meaning he had a regular heartbeat.
The importance of regular physicals
“I’m 44 and my fiancée – soon to be wife – is on my case about getting checked out,” Bell explained. “I come from a long line of very unhealthy people who don’t take their health seriously and I think it’s time to get in the game.”
Because of Bell’s family history, Dr. Harrigan recommended Bell get a yearly physical to keep an eye on his cardiovascular health.
“The best type of detection for anything at all is early detection, whether it is cardiovascular disease or certain types of cancers,” said Dr. Harrigan.
“For guys in their 40s like me who haven’t been for a physical in four or five years…you’ve got to take these steps seriously,” says Bell.
To find a physician who can give you an annual physical, visit Piedmont Physicians Group.