Joe Biden is ‘fit for duty,’ his doctor declared Friday after the president’s routine medical exam which included a colonoscopy and neurological check.
Biden is ‘fit for duty, and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exceptions or accommodations,’ Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the president’s longtime physician, wrote in a six-page memo to press secretary Jen Psaki, which was released by the White House.
In the first public medical report of Biden’s presidency, O’Connor addressed a couple of items that had become topic of public discourse – the president’s notable increase in coughing and clearing his throat and whether his stiffer gait a symptom of a neurological problem – such as a stroke.
‘There were no findings that which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder,’ the doctor noted.
O’Connor concluded the causes were actually fairly minor issues.
Biden is experiencing ‘increasing frequency and severity of “throat clearing” and coughing during speaking engagements” over the last few months and it ‘warranted detailed investigation,’ the doctor acknowledged.
The cause was found to be gastroesophageal reflux, which has him ‘clear his throat more often.’ It also contributes to his ‘occasional cough and sinus congestion.’ His symptoms are exacerbated after meals, the report notes. He has no tumors in his sinuses however, and no signs of ulcer or stomach cancer.
The president, who turns 79 on Saturday, also has an ‘ambulatory gait’ that is ‘perceptibly stiffer and less fluid than it was a year or so ago.’
That gait distrubance can ‘include a variety of neurological pathologies,’ Dr. O’Connor acknowledges. He cited the tests he ran to rule them out, saying he had a team of spine, foot and ankle, radiology, physical therapy and movement disorder neurological specialists to ‘carefully examine and assess the president.’
The neurological exam found ‘no signs of stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ascending lateral sclerosis,’ the memo notes, but did it did find ‘a mild peripheral neuropathy in both feet.’
A ‘combination of significant spinal arthritis, post-fracture “limp and compensation” and a mild sensory peripheral neuropathy of the feet are the explanation for the subtle gait changes which I was investigating,’ O’Connor writes.
The doctor noted Biden acknowledges being stiffer in the mornings but that it eases throughout the day, which is attributed to the ‘number of orthopedic and sports related injuries’ the president had over the years, including when he wore a boot on his right foot last year.
Biden would ‘likely benefit from some shoe orthotics’ and is in physical therapy, the memo notes.
Joe Biden is ‘fit for duty,’ his doctor declared Friday after the president’s routine medical exam
Biden with his longtime physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, at the White House when Biden served as vice president
Medical report lists the five medications that Biden takes for allergies and other conditions
President Biden’s medical report reveals that he is taking five different medications to ease his allergies, reduce the risk of a stroke and to reduce levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.
It also notes that he has ‘no known medication allergies’
Apixaban (Eliquis) – anticoagulant medication used to treat and prevent blood clots and to prevent stroke
Rosuvastatin (Crestor) – a statin, used to lower ‘bad’ cholesterol and raise ‘good’ cholesterol
Fluticasone/azelastine (Dymista) – a nasal spray antihistamine that prevents runny nose, itching, and sneezing from allergies
Fexofenadine (Allegra) – an over-the-counter medication to tackle the symptoms of allergies
Famotidine (Pepcid) – an over-the-counter treatment for heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease, which also reduces the risk of stomach ulcers
Biden’s colonoscopy found a ‘benign-appear polyp’ that was easily removed.
‘Histologic evaluation is anticipated to be completed early next week,’ the doctor noted. ‘The president has never had colon cancer.’
O’Connor first started treating Biden in 2009 when he was vice president and he was the doctor wrote Biden’s last public medical report, which was released in December 2019 during the presidential campaign. O’Connor is a retired US Army colonel who served in the 82nd Airborne Division, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the United States Army Special Operations Command.
Biden is 5’11’ and 184 pounds with a BMI of 25. He ‘does not use any tobacco products, does not drink alcohol and works out five days a week.’
The six-page memo on his health concludes with: ‘This patient’s current medical considerations … include a-fib with normal ventricular response, hyperlipidemia, gastresophagel reflux, seasonal allergies, spinal arthritis and mild sensory peripheral neuropathy of both feet. For these, he takes three common prescription medications and two common over-the-counter medications.’
‘President Biden remains a healthy, vigorous, 78-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency, to include those of chief executive, head of state and commander in chief.’
Biden told reporters he felt ‘great’ after his exam conclude on Friday. The tests included him going under anesthesia for a colonoscopy and putting Vice President Kamala Harris in charge of the country.
The president disembarked from Marine One and appeared to walk slowly and stiffly across the South Lawn upon his return from spending around five hours at Walter Reed Medical Center.
‘They’re going to release all the details. I feel great. Nothing’s changed,’ Biden said of his first physical exam as president.
‘I’m looking forward to celebrating my 58th birthday,’ he joked. Biden turns 79 on Saturday.
Biden took power back at 11:35 a.m. EDT, after speaking with Harris and White House chief of staff Ron Klain. He reliquished power at 10:10 a.m. EDT, leaving Harris in charge of the country for one hour and 25 minutes.
‘.@POTUS spoke with @VP and @WHCOS at approximately 11:35am this morning. @POTUS was in good spirits and at that time resumed his duties. He will remain at Walter Reed as he completes the rest of his routine physical,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter.
The White House said Harris worked out of her office in the West Wing, meaning she was not in the Oval Office as she assumes presidential power. Harris takes over amid reports she is being sidelined by the administration, which the White House has vigorously denied.
Harris, the first female and first black vice presidential, made history with her time holding presidential power.
President Biden said he felt ‘great’ after his annual physical and ‘nothing’s changed’
President Biden returns to the White House after five hours at Walter Reed Medical Center for his routine physical, which included a colonoscopy
Biden disembarks from Marine One on South Lawn of White House
President Biden walks across the South Lawn of the White House
President Biden told reporters he felt ‘great’ after his routine physical
President Biden walks to the Oval Office after his return from Walter Reed
Psaki called it ‘another chapter’ in the history Harris’ selection as VP has made. ‘I think that will be noted for many women, young girls across the country,’ she said during her daily press briefing.
President Biden headed to Walter Reed for his physical as the Democrats passed his $1.75 trillion Build Back Better spending bill and days after a poll said American voters were split on whether he is mentally fit and healthy enough to handle the presidency.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends regular screenings for colon cancer starting at age 45. A colonoscopy can last about an hour. George W. Bush was the last president to undergo a colonoscopy with anesthesia while in office. And he transferred power to then Vice President Cheney in both 2002 and 2007 when he under went the procedure.
Biden’s motorcade arrived at Walter Reed Military Center at 8:51 a.m. EDT on Friday morning, where he was to undergo his first physical as president. It comes the day before his 79th birthday. Biden, wearing a face mask, waved as he went inside.
Psaki announced early Friday morning that Biden would be examined, adding later he ‘will undergo a routine colonoscopy.’
‘As was the case when President George W. Bush had the same procedure in 2002 and 2007, and following the process set out in the Constitution, President Biden will transfer power to the Vice President for the brief period of time when he is under anesthesia. The Vice President will work from her office in the West Wing during this time,’ Psaki said.
The White House will publicly release a written summary of the Biden’s physical later Friday afternoon, she noted.
As required by section three of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, Biden signed a letter to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives saying he is unable to discharge his duties while under anesthesia and designate Harris. Biden will send them another letter upon the conclusion of the procedure, noting he has resumed his duties of office.
President Biden waves as he arrives at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for his annual physical
The White House announced early Friday morning President Biden would go to the military hospital for his annual physical
President Joe Biden is getting his first routine annual physical as president, just a day shy of his 79th birthday
Biden leaving the White House Friday morning for Walter Reed Medical Center
A member of security team cleans President Biden’s limousine before the president departs the White House for Walter Reed Medical Center
Vice President Kamala Harris will be in charge Friday when President Joe Biden goes under anesthesia for a colonoscopy being conducted as part of his annual physical
The White House released copies of the letters to Senator Patrick Leahy and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, where the president relinquished power and then took it back.
Biden wrote to the leaders he was undergoing a ‘routine medical procedure requiring sedation. In view of present circumstances, I have determined to transfer temporarily the power and duties of the office of President of the United States to the Vice President during the brief period of the procedure and recovery.’
He later sent a second letter resuming presidential powers.
‘In accordance with the provisions of section 3 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, I hereby transmit to you my written declaration that I am able to discharge the powers and duties of the Office of the President of the United States and that I am resuming those powers and duties,’ Biden wrote.
Walter Reed Medical Center, a military center in Bethesda, Md., is the traditional hospital of presidents for their medical needs.
The transfer of power and the 25th Amendment: Process Presidents use to briefly hand over the reins
As required by section three of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, Biden will sign a letter to the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives saying he is unable to discharge his duties while under anesthesia and designate Harris.
Biden will send them another letter upon the conclusion of the procedure, noting he has resumed his duties of office.
Presidents have temporarily relinquished power but not all invoked the 25th Amendment.
Previous transfers of power have generally been brief and happened when the president was undergoing a medical procedure.
In 2002, President George W. Bush became the first to use the amendment’s Section 3 to temporarily transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney while Bush was anesthetized for a colonoscopy. Bush temporarily transferred power in 2007 to undergo another colonoscopy.
The 25th Amendment was never invoked after President Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981. Reagan did temporarily transfer power to Vice President George H. W. Bush while undergoing surgery to remove a polyp from his colon in 1985, but he said at the time he wasn’t formally invoking the 25th Amendment.
Donald Trump was treated there when he had COVID. And Trump made a mysterious visit to Walter Reed in November 2019 that was later revealed to be a colonoscopy. At the time the White House said he got a partial physical.
But former Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham indicated in her book on the administration Trump was getting a colonoscopy without anesthesia.
The reason for the secrecy, Grisham explained, was that Trump didn’t want to hand over power to Vice President Mike Pence, even for a short amount of time, because it would be ‘showing weakness.’
He also didn’t want to be ‘the butt of the joke,’ she wrote, on late-night TV.
Biden’s visit to Walter Reed on Friday comes amid questions about the health of the country’s oldest president and, as earlier this week, a new poll found that voters were split on whether Biden is mentally fit enough and healthy enough to handle the presidency.
Only 40 per cent of voters surveyed in a new Politico/Morning Consult poll agreed with the statement that Biden ‘is in good health,’ while 50 per cent disagreed.
Biden got a tougher rating when it came to his mental health.
Asked whether Biden is ‘mentally fit’, voters were close to an even split: 46 per cent says he is and 48 per cent disagree.
And asked whether Biden is ‘stable,’ voters are split again with 44 per cent saying he is and 50 per cent disagreeing.
Psaki declined on Friday to addres the polls’ findings.
‘There are certainly quite a bit of conspiracy theory pushing out there on a range of social media platforms and even through the mouths of elected officials,’ she said.
Voters’ opinions on the president’s health appear to be shifting with more of them concerned about his fitness.
In October 2020, when the poll last surveyed the question, voters believed Biden was in good health by a 19-point margin compared to this recent 10 point one. Addtionally, in that October 2020 survey, voters believed Biden was mentally fit by a 21-point margin.
Biden turns 79 on Saturday and the last extensive update on his health came in December 2019 – during the presidential campaign – where his doctor described him as ‘a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.’ ‘
President Donald Trump, who was 70 when he was elected president, mocked Biden’s stamina on the campaign trail in last year’s election, dubbing him with the moniker ‘Sleepy Joe.’
Trump’s first physical was released in January 2018, a year after he was sworn-in.
An exuberant Dr. Ronny Jackson, now a Republican House member in Congress, praised Trump for having ‘incredible genes,’ which allowed the then 71-year-old president to consume Diet Coke, McDonald’s, ice cream and exercise very little and still stay in ‘very, very good health.’
‘I have absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability,’ Jackson also assured reporters, after the book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House had raised questions about Trump’s mental state.
Donald Trump made a mysterious visit to Walter Reed in November 2019 that was later revealed to be a colonoscopy. Former Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham indicated in her book on the administration Trump was getting a colonoscopy without anesthesia. The reason for the secrecy, Grisham explained, was that Trump didn’t want to hand over power to Vice President Mike Pence , even for a short amount of time, because it would be ‘showing weakness’
Dr. Ronny Jackson, now a Republican House member in Congress, praised Donald Trump’s health after Trump’s first physical as president, which happened in January 2018, a year after Trump was sworn in
Joe and Jill Biden stay physically active – above they ride their bikes through Cape Henlopen State Park in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in September 2019
In March, Biden stumbled three times while climbing the stairs to board Air Force One, which his staff blamed on the windy day
WHAT IS A COLONOSCOPY AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO GET ONE EVERY 10 YEARS?
What is a coloscopy?
A colonoscopy is an exam that detects abnormalities and changes in the large intestine and in the abdomen.
How is it performed?
Patients are either sedated or, in rare cases, given general anesthesia, to dull the amount of pain they feel.
A long, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera is attached to the tip so the doctor can view the inside of the colon.
If necessary, the doctor can remove polyps or other types of abnormal tissue, as well as take tissue samples.
A colonoscopy will generally take about 30 to 60 minutes.
How do I prepare the day before a colonoscopy?
Doctors recommend that patients eat low-fiber foods that are easy to digest starting three to four days before the colonoscopy.
The day before the procedure, patients are not allowed to eat anything solid and can only consume clear liquids.
The night before the colonoscopy, patients have to take laxatives to make sure the digestive tract is clear.
When should I get a colonoscopy?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all adults between ages 45 and 75 get screened for colon cancer.
Patients between ages 75 and 85 are recommended to speak to their doctors about when to get a colonoscopy.
If the colonoscopy doesn’t find any signs of cancer, it should be done every 10 years.
Why is it important to get a coloscopy?
Aside from skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S.
An estimated 104,270 new cases of colon cancer and 45,230 new cases of rectal cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2021.
It is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in men and in women, separately, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths when men and women are combined with 52,980 deaths expected in 2021.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, American Cancer Society
While Trump regularly ‘speaks his mind,’ Jackson argued, he ‘found no reason whatsoever to think that the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought process.’
Biden hasn’t helped questions about his health with his tendency toward gaffes – an afflication that has plagued him on and off throughout his more than 40 years in politics.
In his first few months in office, he would refer to his vice president as ‘President Kamala Harris’ and White House staff recently had to clarify comments he made on the situation in Taiwan.
In March, Biden stumbled three times while climbing the stairs to board Air Force One, which his staff blamed on the windy day.
The president does stay physically active – he and First Lady Jill Biden ride bikes when they are at their vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and he plays golf at the local country club when he’s home in Wilmington.