By Shannon Pettypiece
President Donald Trump is “fit for duty” and should remain so through his presidency, according to presidential physician Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, who examined the president last week amid criticism that the 71-year-old commander-in-chief may be unfit for office.
Jackson said a screening of Trump’s cognitive function — to look for signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease — was normal. Jackson said he didn’t think such an exam was necessary but conducted it at Trump’s request.
“I had absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability and neurological function,” Jackson told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.
Jackson said he’s recommended the president eat less fat and carbohydrates and that he exercises regularly. Jackson said he increased Trump’s dose of a medicine to control cholesterol, AstraZeneca PLC’s Crestor, and he said Trump takes daily aspirin, a multivitamin and hair-loss drug Propecia.
Trump weighed 239 pounds and measured 6 feet, 3 inches tall at the exam, Jackson said. That indicates he is borderline obese, with a body mass index of 29.9, just below the level of 30 that qualifies as obese according to guidelines used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Questions about Trump’s fitness for office flared last week after a new book — “Fire and Fury,” by Michael Wolff — asserted that almost all of Trump’s top staff and advisers believe he is mentally unwell. Trump responded to the criticism by calling himself a “very stable genius” on Twitter and then allowing cameras to film him negotiating immigration legislation with senators at the White House for 55 minutes last week.
Even some Republicans have recently raised concerns. Senator Bob Corker told reporters at the Capitol in October that he questioned Trump’s “leadership, and just his stability and the lack of desire to be competent on issues and understand.”
Jackson said the cognitive screen he administered, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, isn’t designed as a psychiatric assessment. The test instructions describe it as a rapid screening instrument to check for mild cognitive dysfunction that takes about 10 minutes to complete.
The White House announced on Dec. 28 that Trump would undergo a physical. Earlier in the month, he appeared to slur his words during a speech recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said at the time that the president was simply thirsty, calling questions about his health “ridiculous.”
Under federal medical privacy laws, Jackson cannot release any information about Trump’s health without his permission. While presidents aren’t required to have a physical or release the results, it has become standard practice. In a Gallup poll during the 2016 general election, 51 percent of Americans said the president should release all relevant medical information, an increase from 2004 when 38 percent held that view.
According to the summary, Trump’s level of artery-clogging bad cholesterol was 143 mg/dl, below the recommendation of 160 mg/dl. His total cholesterol was 223 mg/dl, lower than the recommended level of 240 mg/dl or below. His fasting blood sugar level was 89 mg/dl — within the healthy range of 70 to 99 mg/dl. Trump has a resting heart rate of 68 beats per minute.
Trump has made no attempt to hide his weakness for unhealthy foods, posting a photo of himself aboard his campaign plane with a bucket of fried chicken, bragging about the chocolate cake at his Mar-a-Lago resort and drinking Diet Coke around the West Wing. Trump would sometimes order two McDonald’s Corp. Big Macs, two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches and a chocolate milkshake for dinner, according to a recent book by campaign aides Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.
Jackson has served as the presidential physician since 2013 and performed Obama’s last physical where he said Obama’s health was “excellent” and that “all clinical data indicates that the president is currently healthy and that he will remain so for the duration of his presidency.” Jackson has worked in the White House since 2006 where he previously treated senior staff and cabinet members.
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