After an unexpected fainting spell
during a Senate hearing on the war in Afghanistan this morning, it's the health status
of Gen. David Petraeus -- rather than his war strategy -- that's making headlines. A look back at his previously reported health habits indicates that while the 57-year-old Petraeus has been a lifelong athlete and overall high-achiever, his ambitious personality may have pushed his body too far this time.
In many ways, the colorful, robust Petraeus is renowned for his hardiness. Among troops, he's known for
a "penchant for push-up contests" and his high school yearbook recalls a teenager who was "always going for it in sports, academics, leadership and even his social life."
He's A Survivor
The General, who underwent treatment for prostate cancer in 2009, also seems capable of surviving -- and bouncing back from -- remarkable physical challenges. Despite "a metal plate in his pelvis and a gunshot wound on his chest," he ran six-minute miles
alongside Runner's World journalist Willy Stern in 2007.
He's Conscious of Appearances
"After our workout, Petraeus asks if I want to see his office, which, it turns out, is also his bedroom," Stern writes. "The general's bed sits roughly 30 inches from his desk. It's unmade, and he's embarrassed by it, tossing the covers over his two pillows."
But He's Still Only Human
On first glance, it doesn't seem like Petraeus has a history of medical problems that might have contributed to a fainting spell. But, in fact, his robustness might actually have been his undoing.
Notorious for sleeping four hours a night -- in his office, no less -- Petraeus also an avid runner and athlete. And runners, especially of the long-distance variety (Petraeus is known for sub-3 hour marathon times) "have unusually low blood pressure," according to Elizabeth Mcleod Sadler
Combine that with a penchant for little sleep, insufficient fluids, no breakfast and a round of
"sharp questions" from Sen. John McCain, and it's no wonder Petraeus suffered a brief slump.