Trump's doctor says he is in 'very good health' following three-and-a-half-hour medical exam

US president was almost obese last year

Katie Rogers
WASHINGTON
Saturday 09 February 2019 10:52
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President Donald Trump waves as he walks up the steps of Marine One at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Friday 8 February 2019, after having his annual physical.
President Donald Trump waves as he walks up the steps of Marine One at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Friday 8 February 2019, after having his annual physical.

President Donald Trump’s personal physician said Friday that the president is in “very good health” and should remain so “for the remainder of his presidency and beyond” after Mr Trump underwent a comprehensive physical examination at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington.

But Dr Sean Conley, a Navy officer who is the president’s physician and the current director of the White House medical unit, released no details about what a team of 11 specialists had found in the course of a four-hour examination of Mr Trump. Mr Conley said that “reports and recommendations are being finalised,” but did not say if, when or in what form they would be publicly released.

Last year, after Mr Trump’s first full examination as president, the White House took the unusual step of having Dr Ronny Jackson, then the president’s physician, deliver a lengthy report in the White House briefing room and then answer questions from reporters. Jackson was widely ridiculed for using excessive language in describing the president’s health.

11 physicians examined Mr Trump in four-hour examination.

“It’s called genetics,” Mr Jackson said. “I told the president if he had eaten healthier over the last 25 years, he might live to be 200.”

Mr Jackson also said at the time that Mr Trump had requested a cognitive function screening test and had performed well. Mr Conley did not say Friday whether he repeated the test this year.

Periodic medical exams for the president are a tradition that goes back decades, and historically, presidential checkups tend to buoy whatever image the president has presented about his health.

The doctors who examined Mr Trump on Friday, whose areas of expertise were not detailed by the White House, were working to detect signs of improvement or cause for concern in areas publicly detailed last year by Mr Jackson.

While Mr Jackson referred last year to the president’s “excellent” condition, he also laid out a few health goals for the president, including reducing Mr Trump’s weight and lowering levels of what is commonly referred to as bad cholesterol.

Among the open questions is whether Mr Trump was able to shed 10 to 15 pounds from his weight last year, when it was reported to be 239 pounds — just below the official label of obesity — on his 6-foot-3 frame. Mr Jackson said last year the two men discussed building in exercise to the president’s schedule and working healthier foods into Mr Trump’s diet.

The president’s weight has been a moving target in recent years: Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, who was Mr Trump’s longtime physician in New York City before he moved to the White House, said in September 2016 that Mr Trump weighed 236 pounds. In December 2015, Bornstein said Mr Trump had lost at least 10 pounds during the preceding year.

On Friday, a White House spokesman said that Mr Trump had not adhered fully to the programme prescribed by Mr Jackson, which included a nutritionist-advised diet and an exercise program.

“The president received a diet and exercise plan last year after his annual physical,” Hogan Gidley, the spokesman, said in a statement, “but the president admits he has not followed it religiously.”

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Another goal was reducing Mr Trump’s high cholesterol level of 223 mg/deciliter with a low dose of a powerful statin drug. Mr Jackson did not specify a target number for this year and said he was focused on lowering the president’s LDL levels to under 120 mg/deciliter from 143 mg/deciliter.

After Mr Trump’s examination in January 2018, Mr Jackson said he had deferred a routine colonoscopy “until the next periodic physical exam,” but it was unclear if Mr Trump had undergone a colonoscopy as part of Friday’s examination.

The White House did not comment on whether Mr Trump underwent the procedure, which is conducted to detect polyps, cancer and other ailments, but said that he did not undergo any procedures requiring sedation or anesthesia.

In the past, presidents have invoked the 25th Amendment, which temporarily transfers power to the vice president, if they underwent sedation as part of that procedure.

President George W. Bush invoked the 25th Amendment twice when he underwent colonoscopies, temporarily transferring power to Vice President Dick Cheney. In 2010, President Barack Obama underwent a virtual colonoscopy, which may not require sedation or anesthesia, and retained his presidential powers.

Mr Trump has had repeated colonoscopies in years past that showed no cancer or bowel disease, Dr Bornstein has said. According to a letter Dr Bornstein wrote during Mr Trump’s candidacy, the president’s last colonoscopy was performed 10 July 2013.

There were no other items besides the physical on the president’s public schedule Friday, but the presidential Twitter account was still updating the public while Mr Trump was at Walter Reed. Mr Trump sent along his condolences about the death of John D. Dingell Jr, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, and baseball legend Frank Robinson, who both died Thursday.

Mr Gidley did not explain to reporters why or how the president was tweeting during his physical.

The New York Times

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