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 WASHINGTON, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Five extraordinary "coronary comebacks" -- survivors of serious heart attacks -- were honored today by the Heart Patient of the Year Awards Program. These heart patients know that secondary heart attacks are common -- and have made dramatic lifestyle changes to improve their chances of staying healthy.
 Each year, 1.5 million Americans suffer heart attacks; 500,000 don't survive. Of the one million survivors, many continue to live lifestyles that contribute to coronary diseases. Others, however, see their close brush with death as a second chance.
 The program, instituted in 1988, is at the forefront of the cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention movement. It acknowledges those who met tough challenges and learn to eat wisely, adhere to a regular exercise program, quit smoking, limit alcohol intake, avoid stress and take medications exactly as prescribed.
 Chosen from nearly 400 nominations submitted by physicians and rehabilitation specialists across the U.S., the five winners received their awards at a ceremony at the National Press Club here. A National Advisory Committee of leaders in cardiology, family medicine, cardiac rehabilitation, and nutrition research selected the 1993 Heart Patient of the Year, three Honorable Mentions, and a Family Award winner.
 Samuel M. Fox, M.D., director of Cardiac Rehabilitation, Georgetown University Medical Center, presented the luncheon address. In his remarks, Dr. Fox described medical science's progress in helping to prevent cardiovascular disease and rehabilitate heart attack survivors.
 "Cardiac rehabilitation was once regarded as nothing more than exercise," Dr. Fox observed. "Today we see it as a total lifestyle change that includes avoiding saturated fat, cholesterol, tobacco in any form, and stress -- as well as exercising. Our goal is to continue making advances in disease prevention and disease regression. My dream is that someday we cardiologists will put ourselves out of business."
 Dr. Fox was honored with a special award for his role in pioneering cardiac rehabilitation, receiving a grant to expand the reach of Georgetown's cardiac rehab program.
 The Heart Patient of the Year
 Prior to his devastating heart attack, crippling migraine headaches were one of the clues that Ronald L. Roberts, 48, of Durham, N.C., was stressed out. The corporate manager was also excitable, impatient, and had trouble dealing with professional and family demands.
 "It wasn't the stress from my job that was killing me," says Roberts, "but the way I reacted to it." His recognition of stress and how he reacted to it probably saved his life: Roberts volunteered for a research project at Duke University Medical Center that studied the impact of exercise on Type A personalities.
 "As Heart Patient of the Year, I hope that I can be a model for people who have doubts that they can get back to a desirable quality of life," he says.
 Roberts, who survived two coronary artery bypass operations in one year, drastically changed his diet, quit a three-pack-a-day smoking habit, gets up at 5 a.m. daily to jog two miles and ride a stationery bike, and practices a stress reduction regimen.
 The Family Award
 By his own admission Reverend William J. Kelley, 53, was once a nutritionally reckless, 235-pound couch potato and workaholic. That lifestyle contributed to his need for double bypass surgery. Today, he eats healthfully, regularly participates in 10K walks, works out with weights, and has championed a smoke-free, nutritionally-enhanced environment at his home, the St. Augustine's Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Miss. -- a residence for retired priests and brothers -- where he is the retreat director. Of great value to Kelley is his rehabilitation program at Gulfport Memorial Hospital.
 Father Kelley will share his award with his "family" -- the members at St. Augustine's who have been deeply involved in his recovery. "They give me encouragement, support, and when appropriate, admonition," he says. Kelley's health consciousness has served his community family well. The seminary's kitchen staff took classes in nutrition, and a dietitian visited the facility to evaluate and modify menus.
 Physician Award for Innovative Heart Disease Prevention
 Known as a successful motivator of patients, Steven P. Van Camp,M.D., of San Diego, believes that a relaxed doctor-patient relationship can lead to patients taking responsibility for their own health needs. Through frequent, brief office visits, Van Camp carefully monitors how patients respond to his advice regarding diet, exercise, and medication. One patient, a psychiatrist, said, "I give Dr. Van Camp an `A' for some very subtle psychotherapy. I believe he is interested in my well-being, and that he knows me as both an individual and a patient."
 The Physician Award for Innovative Heart Disease Prevention is designed to motivate physicians to focus greater attention on prevention strategies and honors physicians who have initiated exceptional heart disease prevention programs.
 Honorable Mentions
 "The greatest gift I have is my ability to donate my time and experience to help others," says Johnnie E. Jones, Fort Washington, Md., one of the Honorable Mentions. Today Jones is a 70-year-old survivor of triple bypass surgery. Ironically, in 1940, when he was 17, he began a lifetime of fundraising activity for the American Heart Association. It is quite possible that research he helped support more than 50 years ago played a role in saving his life in 1990 when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and other serious cardiovascular problems.
 In 1946, when Rosaline Maurer's husband, Abe, proposed to the then 22-year-old Roz, she tearfully told him, "You don't want to marry me. I'm going to die young of a heart attack. Everyone in my family does -- we all inherit the same heart disease." Not only was she wrong about dying early, but today this 69-year-old Beverly Hills grandmother and heart attack survivor -- is free of medications for the first time in 45 years. A vegetarian, she is active in a preventive health care program.
 While his wife struggled to keep Robert J. Ribich, Jr., alive administering CPR, the nearest paramedic crew was tied up on another call. Twenty minutes later, they arrived. "My heart was so damaged that a doctor told my wife I had only a five percent chance of survival," he says. "But today I walk 14-minute miles, and earlier this year I won a 5K walkathon." Now Ribich, 50, has given up smoking, exercises three times a week and sticks to a strict low-fat, low cholesterol diet.
 Criteria for Nominations
 Applications for the Heart Patient of the Year Awards Program are completed by both the patient and their physicians. They are evaluated for changes in attitude; diet; fitness; smoking; awareness of health problems; understanding how physical and emotional stress affects heart disease; motivation and inspiration to fellow cardiac patients, and compliance with prescribed medication regimens that include the use of aspirin as a therapeutic agent in the prevention of a secondary heart attack. Special attention is given to the lifestyle changes other family members make.
 The Family Award selection was based on applications completed by the patient's families and the heart patients themselves.
 According to Greg Westerbeck, medical marketing director, SmithKline Beecham Consumer Brands, "The Heart Patient of the Year Program works to educate and encourage heart disease patients and people at high risk for heart attack to modify their lifestyles. Ecotrin understands that when people make a commitment to a daily regimen of diet, exercise, and physician-supervised medication, they increase their chances for a successful pursuit of cardiovascular health. The program also recognizes the contributions of physicians and related health professionals who help their cardiac patients make the most of their second chance at life."
 -0- 9/22/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: For more information on the Heart Patient Program, call 212-326-9800./
 /CONTACT: Jen Dennen or Laura Silver of Stawasz Public Relations, 212-326-9800/

CO: SmithKline Beecham ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:

LD-SM -- NY004 -- 4521 09/22/93 08:31 EDT
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Date:Sep 22, 1993

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