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'Twas the Week Before Christmas and Santa's Due for a Check-Up

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 General News J E 4
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Santa Claus Declared "Fit for Duty" at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas



DALLAS, Dec. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Santa Claus, a.k.a. Kris Kringle, was declared "fit for duty" yesterday at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas after undergoing his annual physical. At the news conference to announce the results of his exam, doctors gave him a clean bill of health and said not to worry...he is in good shape to make his trip around the world next week.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081217/DC52860)



Jane Sadler, M.D., Santa's physician, said that despite a slightly high blood sugar level -- most likely due to over-consumption of sweets through the years -- Santa is otherwise in excellent health.



"Instead of cookies, maybe families should leave him some fruits and vegetables this year or perhaps nuts high in omega-three fatty acids," says Dr. Sadler. "Anything high in protein or rich in nutrients is a good alternative. Leave the milk, but make sure it's low-fat," she adds.



Like many annual physicals, Santa's exam included a weight check, blood pressure screening, nutritional counseling and a conversation about family medical history in addition to annual health screenings for heart disease and cancer. Since Santa is not a smoker and exercises at least 30 minutes a day, he is considered in general good health. However, Dr. Sadler says that his excess abdominal fat or "bowl full of jelly" is an indicator for metabolic syndrome -- a combination of elevated blood pressure and cholesterol and high blood glucose levels.



"Metabolic syndrome is extremely common, especially in men, so I have recommended to Santa that he increase his physical activity level and maintain a healthier diet," explains Dr. Sadler, a family medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Medical Center at Garland. "Metabolic syndrome increases a person's chances of developing heart disease or stroke so it's important to address the risk factors and get them under control."



Like many people, Santa was reluctant to undergo his physical this year, since he is nervous about visiting the doctor. However, he reconsidered at the urging of Mrs. Claus.



"I haven't focused on my health as much as I should. All of my attention is on the Holidays since they are a year round event for me. But Mrs. Claus helped me understand that I need to keep myself healthy so I can continue spreading Christmas cheer and bringing gifts to good girls and boys. It's what I love most," explains Santa.



According to Dr. Sadler, it is very common for men to neglect their health.



"I see it all the time in my practice. In fact, studies have shown that men are more likely to neglect their health than women and may go a few years without having any contact with a medical professional," she says. "But an annual physical can be lifesaving. Being familiar with your family medical history and health statistics like blood pressure and cholesterol levels is critical to preventing life-threatening conditions. When it comes to your health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."



Santa is due for a six-month follow-up visit in June, but says he plans to make improvements in his health much sooner than that.



"The New Year is a perfect time to start over. My New Year's Resolution for 2009 is to cut back on sweets, exercise a little more and make my health a priority. Lots of little children are depending on me and I owe it to them to take care of myself," says Santa.



Upon leaving the hospital, the staff heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, "a healthy Christmas to all and to all a good night!"



To see an exclusive video about Santa's annual physical at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, visit www.BaylorHealth.com/FitforDuty. Download an annual screenings checklist and declare your New Year's Health Resolution by participating in the online survey.



SOURCE Baylor Health Care System
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