Amid mounting pressure from republicans and democrats, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have released information regarding their current medical statuses. While each of the two candidates’ physicians declared them fit to serve should either be elected president of the United States, it is important to remember that we have only been given a glimpse into their actual health histories.
A complete medical record includes the entire detailed previous encounters that a patient has had with a doctor or hospital. This includes medical imaging, physician notes and patient symptoms pertaining to each office visit or hospitalization. That complete record also notes the recommended treatments, as well as prescribed dosages of any prescribed medications given and copies of laboratory results. Instead, what the campaign managers for Trump and Clinton have released are one- to two-page physician summaries detailing what they say are the candidates’ current health statuses.
When considering what’s on the surface of these revelations, I would say 70-year-old Trump has been more transparent in providing a more detailed overlook of his medical status. He not only included some of his current cholesterol and blood pressure levels, but also some very important medical test results including those for a colonoscopy and a cardiac analysis, which are crucial exams for men his age. According to his physician’s summary, Trump passed these tests with flying colors.
Now, 68-year-old Clinton’s health summary also included important clinical information, but it wasn’t until after she appeared to collapse at a ceremony commemorating 9/11 that her campaign was forced to disclose that she was recently diagnosed with a mild case of pneumonia. Her physician again confirmed her use of Coumadin, a blood thinner used to prevent heart attacks, stroke and blood clots, as well as Armor thyroid, a medication used to treat hypothyroidism. According to the summary, the Armor has helped her blood tests remain stable and within normal limits for many years.
While this is the most health information regarding either candidate that we have ever received, it’s still not enough for me to declare one healthier than the other, nor can test results alone confirm that. Lifestyle factors like sleep patterns, genetics and diet, not to mention stress levels, play a key role in longevity. Both of these candidates have been in strenuous professional positions, but without a detailed medical record of blood pressure levels and heart exams during those periods, it’s impossible to predict how a presidency would affect either candidate’s health.
I understand completely the need to explore the health of a presidential candidate, and I know that both physicians declared the candidates would be fit to serve, but let’s take that recommendation with a grain of salt.
In 2016 we still debate President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s polio diagnosis, President John F. Kennedy’s various ailments and painkiller regimen, and President Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. President Bill Clinton’s affection for fast food did not do him any wonders, President George W. Bush had a history of heavy drinking before taking office, and President Barack Obama has been slammed for his smoking. By the way, Theresa May, Britain’s new prime minister, is a Type 1 diabetic which did not impede her quest to succeed David Cameron. So, before we jump down the throats of either Trump or Clinton, is it ever truly conceivable that we will get a candidate who is the picture of perfect health? More importantly, does it matter as much as we think it does?