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Living With Heart Woes A Delicate Balance

Vice President Dick Cheney has had four heart attacks in 23 years. While some wonder if the vice president should slow down, doctors say that Cheney can go about his business just fine.


Lee Cowan reports on the story of another man's case and what could be the best medicine for politicians and voters alike.


They've never met, never talked--he didn't even vote for the Bush ticket--but at 58, Larry Posner has more in common with Dick Cheney than he would like to.


He too is a vice president--in this case, at a New York software firm--working long hours, through lunches, but pushing on, despite a nagging message from his heart.


"I'm thinking that since my father died at 44, I'm not too far behind him," Posner says.


Seventeen years ago Larry had double bypass surgery--a result, he feared, of too many business trips, too little exercise--and too much junk food. So he quit his job.


But that's when solving one problem led to another. Lower stress jobs may be healthy, but they don't always pay, creating a different kind of job stress for Larry--financial.


"I went from a quarter of a million dollars to $25,000 a year," he says.


So when the promotions came his way, he took them, until he ended up right back where he started--back in a high stress job--and back in the hospital.


Like 800,000 other Americans last year, he had a stent placed in his arteries to keep them open, and just like the Vice President, he had to have the procedure done not once, but twice.


All leaving Larry to think: "You should retire to Costa Rica and become a vegetarian and you'll live a long life … and it's not a bad idea," he says with a laugh.


But his cardiologist says, not so fast.


"I think people should function at whatever level they're capable of functioning," says Dr. Fred Feit.


Quitting a job, he cautions, isn't always the answer--whether it's in the board room or the White House.


"It's easy to tell somebody to stop being stressed, but for somebody who is active in their job, it's usually more stressful if they stop working," Feit says.


Well-managed stress can actually be good, he says, exciting and even motivating a person.


"I love coming in to work," says Posner. "It's something I look forward to, so not having it would be a detriment."

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