Hall-of-Famer Aims to Strike Out High Cholesterol

Baseball hall-of-famer Jim Palmer is in his third season as spokesman for Strike Out High Cholesterol, a national cholesterol education program.

During his baseball career with the Baltimore Orioles lasting from 1965-84, Jim Palmer struck out 2,212 opposing hitters.

He compiled a 268-152 mark and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1999, he was listed at No. 64 on a list of the 100 Greatest Players compiled by The Sporting News. He later achieved fame as a basenall analyst, both a network TV and with Orioles television. A native of New York City who grew up in California, Palmer, who retains his boyish looks as he approaches his 63rd birthday in October, now aims to “strike out’’ an even tougher foe — high LDL (or bad) cholesterol that leads to heart disease.

Palmer is in his third season as spokesman for Strike Out High Cholesterol, a national cholesterol education program sponsored by Merck and Schering-Plough and the Men’s Health Network. He is visiting various ballparks this season to mix with crowds, sign some autographs and offer tips on lowering LDL.

Merck, of course, originally marketed the cholesterol statin drug in my regimen known as Zocor (generically Simvastatin), and it has proven to be effective in keeping my numbers where they should be, the total cholesterol right around 120 and both LDL, the bad stuff, and HDL, the good stuff right in their “comfort zone”

Palmer is as smooth a spokesman as one can find and represents the program well. In the past, he has worked with, as part of Strike Out High Cholesterol, with the National Volunteer Fire Council as partner with an emphasis on preventing heart attacks among firemen. This year, Men’s Health Network, a non-profit educational organization comprised of physicians, researchers, public health workers, individuals and other health professionals has joined the team.

As a former athlete, I’ve always done my best to lead a healthy lifestyle,’’ said Palmer.” Still, I struggle with controlling my high LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol. ” Palmer said. “One thing I’ve learned from talking with my doctor is that high cholesterol is not only a result of what you eat but also is influenced by your family health history.”

One facet Palmer stresses in his talks to groups, whether in a baseball setting or not, is it is important to get an early read on your cholesterol. He was adopted as a youngster and never really got a true read of the biological factors affecting his LDL.

Palmer also stresses how diet and exercise can help lower bad cholesteral. Cut out the burgers and steaks and substitute chicken, turkey or fish, the staples of a heart-healthy diet. He also suggests exercise, a key to heart health often mentioned as part of this blog and mentions how walks, or simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator in an office building, will help.

Those are a start. Every person is different and should have his or her cholesterol monitored on a regular basis by a physician. Despite having numbers that were in a “normal’’ zone, I suffered a heart attack and work, with diet, exercise and medication, to keep matters at a “below normal,’’ or “normal for me’’ number.

Palmer, however, is an effective promoter at getting people to recognize what high cholesterol can lead to and at least thinking about taking action. Hall-of-Famers making a “pitch” have a tendency to do just that.