The hardest-working man in show business is worried about your health.
Regis Philbin, the popular Bronx-born television personality who has been charming audiences for more than 50 years, is sharing his heart health story as part of a new public service campaign with Kowa Pharmaceuticals America called “Take Cholesterol to Heart.”
During his long tenure as the co-host of “Live!,” Philbin underwent an angioplasty in 1993 and triple bypass surgery in 2007. Today, he takes a widely prescribed medication known as a statin to lower his cholesterol and risk for heart disease. But Philbin noted many statin users stop taking their medication after one year (at least 50 percent, according to a 2017 Harris Poll study).
Philbin, 86, answered questions from amNewYork about the campaign, how he built his own healthy routine and why he cut back on the cheeseburgers and cookies.
Can you describe your diet and exercise routine?
Before my angioplasty and triple bypass, I wasn’t very disciplined when it came to my diet. Now, I still enjoy the foods I’ve always loved, but in moderation. I mostly stick to chicken and vegetables for weekly dinners and work out at a gym a few days a week to help my strength and muscle tone.
My cardio could use some work so I’ve been trying to add more exercises to my routine to get my heart rate up, whether it’s with a game of tennis or a walk through Central Park with my wife, Joy.
Why do you think it’s difficult for some people — men and women — to be honest with their doctors about their health issues?
I think a large part of it is being in tune with your own body and speaking up to your doctor when something doesn’t feel quite right.
My doctor also prescribes me a statin to manage my high cholesterol levels. Initially, I was experiencing muscle aches and fatigue on the first statin I tried so my doctor switched me to another statin that was a better fit for me. I’m glad I had that conversation with my doctor.
What advice do you have for people of all ages about keeping their hearts healthy?
Schedule regular checkups with your doctor and educate yourself on treatment options that may work well for you. While I’ve heard my fair share of jokes after 50-plus years of hosting a talk show, I know more now than ever that heart health is no joking matter.
Is there anything you wish you had done when you were younger to take better care of your health?
If I knew what I know today, I probably wouldn’t have eaten as many cheeseburgers and oatmeal raisin cookies and would have considered exercise as a daily part of my routine, not just an obligation that I felt forced to do.