Are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Healthy Enough to be President?

SEPTEMBER 15, 2016
David Friedman, MD, FACC, FACP
 Note: Cindy C. Ginsberg, MD, PhD, is the co-author of this article.
 
Questions continue to arise regarding the health of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, most recently with Clinton’s doctor’s Sept. 11 confirmation that the candidate has pneumonia. She also was treated for a blood clot in her head in 2012, apparently due to a concussion she suffered in plane crash in Iran.
 
On September 14, the Clinton campaign released a letter from Clinton’s physician that provided information about the candidate’s medical history and medications, and said she was “healthy and fit to serve as the president of the United States.”
 
Until recently, Trump’s health was officially assessed only in what amounts to a doctor’s note in which his physician Harold Bornstein says Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” On September 15, the Trump campaign released a new, more detailed note from Trump’s doctor that provided information from several tests and declared the candidate to be in “excellent physical health.”
 
In my opinion, the public is entitled to detailed, unbiased information from outside the candidates’ campaigns.
 
The candidates’ health has been an issue of special interest this year because, at the respective ages of 68 (Clinton) and 70 (Trump), both candidates are substantially older than the 50-something average for US presidential nominees.
 
In my medical opinion, United States presidential candidates, as well as candidates for other high-ranking elected government offices, should be required to undergo an independent medical clearance exam. This exam would accomplish three things: (1) it would provide the public with information crucial to their ability to evaluate candidates’ fitness, (2) it would allow for the establishment of a presidential medical clearance process, and (3) it would end speculation about candidates’ health during campaigns, which may distract from more important political issues.
 
Presidential candidates customarily release at least a portion of their medical records to demonstrate their fitness for office, but this disclosure is entirely voluntary, and an independent medical exam is not required.
 


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