December 19, 2019

Physician says Biden is 'healthy, vigorous,' and 'fit' to serve as president

Daily Briefing

    Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, is "healthy, vigorous," and "fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency," according to a physician's report that Biden's campaign released Tuesday.

    Where the 2020 Democratic candidates stand on health care

    Report details

    In the three-page report, Kevin O'Connor—Biden's physician and director of executive medicine at GW Medical Faculty Associates—noted that Biden has nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, known as AFib, or an irregular heartbeat. O'Connor wrote that Biden takes a blood thinner because AFib can increase a person's risk of developing blood clots, and he also takes a statin to help control his cholesterol levels. O'Connor in the report noted that Biden's LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and blood sugar levels are healthy, and listed Biden's blood pressure at 128/84.

    According to NPR's "Shots," the "most serious health condition" noted in the report "dates back to 1988," when a blood vessel in Biden's brain burst and providers subsequently found an additional bulging vessel in his brain. O'Connor wrote that the vessels were repaired and treated, but Biden during his hospitalization formed a blood clot that got stuck in one of his lungs. Providers treated that condition, as well, and Biden has not since had any similar issues, according to the report. O'Connor noted that a 2014 CT angiogram on Biden "showed no recurrence" of the blood-vessel problems.

    O'Connor in the report also noted that Biden had his gall bladder removed in 2003, and he has had "multiple physical therapy treatments and surgeries, for various sports medicine and orthopedic injuries," as well as surgeries on his sinuses and nasal passages. In addition, O'Connor wrote that Biden has been treated for noncancerous swelling of his prostate gland, and has undergone procedures to remove several non-melanoma skin cancers. According to "Shots," non-melanoma skin cancers are "common" and "rarely dangerous."

    O'Connor wrote that Biden does not drink alcohol or use tobacco products, "and he works out at least five days per week." O'Connor in the report noted that Biden is 5 feet, 11.65 inches tall and weighs 178 pounds, which is not considered overweight. Biden currently uses Allegra and Dymista to treat seasonal allergies and takes over-the-counter esomeprazole to treat gastroesophageal reflux, according to the report.

    Overall, O'Connor described Biden as a "healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency."

    A focus on candidates' health

    Biden's campaign released the report amid increasing focus on presidential candidates' health, as many of this year's leading candidates are over the age of 69. According to the Washington Post, Biden "has faced persistent questions during the campaign about his age and his mental acuity, most prominently from President Trump."

    Biden is one of four Democratic presidential candidates over the age of 69. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who had a heart attack in October, is the oldest candidate at 78; followed by Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D), who are both 77. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is the youngest of the group at age 70, and was the first of the group to release a letter from her physician describing her as "a very healthy 70-year-old."

    Bloomberg last week released a letter from his physician that described him as "a 77-year-old man in outstanding health."

    Trump, who currently is 73, holds the record as the oldest person to have been elected as a first-term president. Trump in a tweet posted last month wrote that he had begun "phase one" of his annual medical examination, and "[e]verything [is] very good (great!)." He added that he would complete the exam "next year."

    Sanders has said he would release his health records by the end of this year (Viser/Wootson, Washington Post, 12/17; Harris, "Shots," NPR, 12/17; Korecki/Caputo, Politico, 12/17).

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