May 2, 2006

Susanne Hartman
(215) 349-5964


America’s First Baby Boomer Turns 60 While Fighting Off the Nation’s Number One Killer,
Heart Disease, Under the Guidance of a Penn Vascular Physician
Kathy Kirschling, the Unofficial “Poster Child” for the Can-Do Baby Boomer Generation,
Speaks Out for the First Time on the Importance of Being Proactive About Your Own Health

(Philadelphia, PA) - Kathy Kirschling, born one second after midnight on January 1st, 1946, has been identified as America’s first “Baby Boomer” - and along with that dubious title, she’s become a “voice of ” the “Never say, ‘never’ generation” over the years. It’s a generation that encompasses nearly 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, and has blazed a trail in all areas of life. And now, on this Mother’s Day, Kirschling, a Cherry Hill, New Jersey resident, is finally talking about health to her fellow baby boomers -- and the legacy they’ll leave for their sons and daughters.

Several years ago, Kirschling, a mother of two, began seeing Emile Mohler III, MD, Director of Vascular Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, because of her family’s history of heart disease. Her younger sister had a heart attack at age 37; her mom died at age 55 from heart disease; and her dad, who had open heart surgery at the age of 50, was a pioneer recipient of bypass surgery in the 1970s. All four of her grandparents died from heart disease. And Kirschling herself had a scare two years ago when her total cholesterol number skyrocketed to 380 (normal is 200 and below).

Mother’s Day Message:
Establish a Solid Relationship With Your Doctor…

She wants others to know that “going to the doctor doesn’t have to be a scary experience. I feel very secure being on the medications I’m on to control my cholesterol, because my doctor monitors it and keeps validating everything I’m doing right with my exercise and diet.”

Kirschling adds that Dr. Mohler recognized she wanted to be proactive in her health and ward off a heart attack. Through medication and exercise, they got her cholesterol under control and she now has regular check-ups with Dr. Mohler to continuously monitor her health. “His goal is to keep me as healthy as I can be and not have a heart attack. And he’s succeeded so far,” explains Kirschling. “Dr. Mohler and I, together -- we’re a team. Our whole goal is to let me stay healthy for as long as I live.”

Emile Mohler III, MD, adds, “Patients like Kathleen are at a point in their life when they realize they are at the same age their parent was when they had a heart attack or a stroke and they could be getting close to the age when their parents died. Baby boomers should go see the doctor now to see how they can continue to live well.”

Mohler adds that, as Boomers turn 60, they need to be concerned about cholesterol build-up in the carotid arteries of the neck, for stroke, and in the arteries of the legs for Peripheral Arterial Disease. Any blockages in the leg could mean you’re more susceptible to heart attack and stroke.

A Mother’s Day Message:
Baby Boomers Should Teach Their Children About Staying Healthy…
Kirschling has two daughters, both in their 30s, and one of them also battles high cholesterol. Kirschling wants to set an example for them and the younger generations to follow. “The more we do to keep awareness and education about our own selves, the better it will be for the next generation,” comments Kirschling. “They need to know that their genetic make-up and how they choose to live their lives will have an impact on what happens to their health.”

Kirschling’s daughter, Jennifer LaRosa, adds, “My mom has definitely been one of my biggest role models. She takes care of herself. She’s very health conscious and physically active all the time. These positive lessons have helped me create a great base for my own family. I want to be just like her at her age.”

LaRosa goes on to say, “This is an important lesson to be reminded of come Mother’s Day. Life is short. The more you take care of yourself now, the longer you’ll be able to do things with your family; you’ll be able to go on trips and not do it in a wheelchair. You can take a bike ride with the kids, run along with them in the mall. They call it the golden years; it should be called the golden years for a reason.”

Kirschling has five grandchildren to chase around the yard, with one more on the way. “I really appreciate being able to keep up with my grandchildren and take care of them. I really work hard on staying as healthy as I can day by day. It’s part of my life. I don’t know what 60 is supposed to feel like.”

A Mother’s Day Message:
Baby Boomers to Blaze Yet Another Trail…

Kirschling, who has made a career as a teacher and community health educator, can’t help but wonder, “I see so many younger folks who are overweight and I ask myself, ‘Will the baby boomers outlive the next generation?’ With excess weight, people are walking around with time bombs.”

“I went down after Hurricane Katrina as a disaster instructor; thousands of baby boomers came down to help. We want to stay useful. We have a drive to stay healthy and try to keep the energy up. That’s different from our parent’s generation,” Kirschling comments. “There are lessons to be learned when it comes to our health. We are the generation that changed the world and we can blaze yet another trail as we enter our old age in a healthy state. Baby boomers are exercising, eating right, and seeing doctors as we enter retirement. We are not entering retirement to sit around in a lazy chair.”


PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which is consistently ranked one of the nation's few "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

This release is available online at