Thu, Jan 11, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Trump’s checkup comes as chatter about his health lingers

By Darlene Superville  /  AP, Washington

Concerns have been raised about US President Donald Trump’s health due to his diet of fast food and behind-the-scenes revelations in a new book about his first year in office.

Photo: AFP

President Donald Trump is getting his first medical checkup since taking office, a head-to-toe exam tomorrow as questions swirl about the health and fitness of the oldest person ever elected to the US’ highest office. In advance, the 71-year-old president has pushed back vigorously against suggestions he’s mentally unfit, declaring himself “a very stable genius.”

Trump raised concern last month when he slurred some words on national TV. When asked about it, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said questions about Trump’s health were “frankly, pretty ridiculous” and blamed his slurred speech on a dry throat, “nothing more than that.”

More questions have been raised in the weeks since, given the tone of some of his tweets and the reported comments of some of the people who deal with him day to day. Some were recently published in a new book about his first year, which Sanders denounced as “complete fantasy” for its portrayal of Trump as undisciplined, child-like and in over his head.

FIT FOR DUTY?

Trump was 70 when he was inaugurated a year ago to handle the 24/7 demands of being president. Ronald Reagan, who served two terms, was a year younger when he took office in 1981.

Trump took the unusual step of threatening legal action to try to suppress publication of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,’ by Michael Wolff. He then drew even more attention to the book and the debate about his fitness with weekend tweets stating that his two greatest assets in life “have been mental stability and being, like, really smart.” Trump noted his success in business, reality TV and presidential politics, saying: “I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius ... and a very stable genius at that!”

The president is to fly by helicopter tomorrow to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington in Bethesda, Maryland, for the exam.

There is no requirement for a president to have a physical, but modern officeholders undergo them regularly and release a doctor’s report stating that they are “fit for duty.”

Trump will not undergo a psychiatric exam, the White House said. Officials did not address a different type of screening, assessments of cognitive status that examine neurologic functions including memory. Cognitive assessments aren’t routine in standard physicals, although they recently became covered in Medicare’s annual wellness visits for seniors.

Ronny Jackson, a Navy rear admiral who is the president’s official physician and director of the White House Medical Unit, is coordinating the exam. Jackson provided care for President Barack Obama, conducting and supervising the last of three physicals Obama had during his eight years in office.

How much of Trump’s health information the public gets to see is up to him, but Sanders said she expects him to release the same kind of details as past presidents.

In September 2016, during the presidential campaign, Trump released a five-paragraph letter from Harold Bornstein, his longtime physician, in which the gastroenterologist concluded that Trump “is in excellent physical health.” A year earlier, Bornstein said in a December 2015 letter: “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

The 2016 letter put Trump’s blood pressure and cholesterol measurements in the healthy range, but he does use a cholesterol-lowering statin medication. His EKG, chest X-ray, echocardiogram and blood sugar were normal. The 6-foot-3 Trump weighed 236 pounds, and his body mass index, or BMI, of 29.5 put him in the category of being overweight for his height.

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