NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Comedian and former late night show host Jay Leno wants people to take cardiovascular disease seriously.
Some of the funniest entertainers of his era have succumbed to the disease.
'We've lost an awful lot of comedians including Gary Shandling, Kevin Meaney, John Pinette, Rodney Dangerfield," said Leno during FOX 5 NY morning program, 'Good Day New York.' "We are just trying to make people aware. We are doing funny videos about what people should be asking their doctors."
Leno is trying to get the word out through the national campaign, Cholesterol 911 with Amgen. He's drawing attention to high LDL-C, also known as “bad cholesterol” and its link to heart attack and stroke.
High “bad” cholesterol is one of the most important risk factors associated with an increased risk for heart attack.
Nearly seven out of 10 adults in the United States with cardiovascular disease still have elevated LDL-Cholesterol despite using lipid-lowering therapy.
"I used to believe laughter was the best medicine. No, it's not. It is a terrible medicine. It doesn't work at all. If a guy is having a stroke you're not going to tell him a joke," said Leno.
What prompted his passion for encouraging others to keep their cholesterol in check and keeping up with their doctor? His hero, Rodney Dangerfield.
"I had him on the Tonight Show. He was a little off. I said to my producers, 'call the paramedics. Rodney might be having a little problem.' He gets through the segment and I go into the dressing room to say goodbye and he had a mini-stroke. The paramedics said to me 'you might have saved him from having a heart attack.' To think that that might have changed his life or added a few years was life-affirming."