Ill Bill was 'in denial'


Bill Clinton had ignored symptoms of heart disease.


Former US president Bill Clinton showed classic male behaviour when he repeatedly ignored symptoms of heart problems until he was on the verge of a major heart attack.

Doctors revealed last week that before ending up in the hospital for a quadruple heart bypass operation, Mr Clinton had been experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath for months.

He had blamed the symptoms on being out of shape, acid reflux, heartburn anything but heart disease. Mr Clinton also had high blood pressure, a sign that he was vulnerable to heart problems.

It turned out that his arteries were so clogged that he could have had a possibly fatal heart attack at any time.

"It's a very real phenomenon that men use," says Dr Eva Ritvo, chairwoman of the Mount Sinai Medical Centre's psychiatry department.

"I think there's multiple reasons. For one, in our culture, men are raised to be the strong ones, go out there and do the hunting. Women are raised to be caretakers, and sometimes that translates into taking care of yourself.

"Another aspect is that women go to doctors regularly and they get used to the process of being examined long before they ever get sick.

"Fear of illness is another. It's easier for men to turn to denial than to face the disease that could affect their employment and status."

Dr Mehmet Oz, of New York Presbyterian Hospital, where Mr Clinton is being treated, said: "In general, men live under the illusion that they are immortal. They claim that the time demands from their jobs block out their ability to leisurely pursue subtle symptoms."