'No New Concerns' for Biden's Health After Annual Physical

By   |  February 29, 2024

By Robin Foster HealthDay Reporter  |  Copyright © 2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

THURSDAY, Feb. 29 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Following an annual physical conducted on Wednesday, President Joe Biden has been found "fit for duty" by his doctor.

“The President feels well and this year’s physical identified no new concerns. He continues to be fit for duty and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations,” White House physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor wrote in a memo detailing the results of Biden's exam.

While O'Connor said a neurological exam didn't reveal any evidence of stroke, neurological disorders or Parkinson’s disease, the memo did not say whether the physical included tests for cognitive decline or dementia.

However, during a press briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said O'Connor assessed that the 81-year-old president “doesn’t need a cognitive test,” CNN reported. A cognitive test has not typically been part of a standard presidential physical.

“For the physician who interacts with a patient on a regular basis, it is perfectly valid for the physician to say, ‘I can assess the mental status on a daily basis,’” Dr. Thomas Wisniewski, director of the Center for Cognitive Neurology at NYU Langone Health, told the New York Times.

Concerns over Biden's age have dogged him as he runs for re-election; he is the oldest president in the country’s history. Earlier this month, he was described in a special counsel report as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

On Wednesday, Biden answered questions about the results of his exam, the Times reported.

“They think I look too young,” he told reporters. “There is nothing different than last year."

In the detailed summary of the exam results, O’Connor did offer updates on several medical conditions Biden has. Last year, he had a basal cell cancer removed from his chest during his physical, but O’Connor noted Wednesday that no further treatment for that was needed this year.

Biden also has obstructive sleep apnea, a common sleeping disorder in which a person’s airways become blocked multiple times during the night. O’Connor noted Biden has stuck with his CPAP therapy to ease that condition.

Another health concern O'Connor noted was Biden's slower, stiffer movements in recent months. O’Connor noted “moderate to severe” degeneration of Biden's spinal disks, which he chocked up to the “wear-and-tear" of aging. Biden also has peripheral neuropathy, with nerve damage, pain and stiffening in his feet. To combat that, Biden has been doing physical therapy and an intensive stretching program four to five times a week, O'Connor said.

In other areas, Biden was strikingly healthy, according to the memo: He weighs 178 pounds and has a body mass index of 24.1. His blood pressure was 132/78, with a pulse of 64. His total cholesterol was 122, with his HDL "good" cholesterol at 45 and his LDL "bad" cholesterol at 68. Biden does take Eliquis (apixaban), a anti-clotting medication, for his atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heartbeat.

More information

The University of Arizona has more on the secret illnesses of past presidents.

SOURCE: White House memo, Feb. 28, 2024; CNN, New York Times