Past Presidents’ Physicals: What We Know So Far

CNN looked at old reports from physical exams of former presidents. These reports usually include basic information like height, weight, and blood pressure. But they also include details like how Obama’s doctor removed a skin tag, how George H. W. Bush’s doctor drained a cyst on his finger, and how Gerald Ford’s doctor pushed for a swimming pool at the White House.

Presidential candidates aren’t required to share the results of their medical exam, but Jackson did so during a meeting on Tuesday and said on Friday that Trump was in “excellent health.”

Here is a look at how healthy past leaders were based on the exams they had.

From 1974 to 1977: President Gerald Ford

In January 1975, Ford’s doctor told him, “happy to report he is in excellent health. The results of all medical tests were normal in every way.”

In July 1976, Ford had another physical. During this visit, his doctor said, “He has had no complaints … other than mild discomfort in his knee following periods of prolonged standing. The President has maintained his physical capacity for long working hours. He sleeps very well and continues to follow his diet and weighs between 195 and 198 pounds.”

Ford’s doctor wrote in 1975 that “the completion of the new White House swimming pool will provide him with short intervals for relaxation that can easily be fitted into his busy schedule.”

“I would like to take the time to acknowledge those citizens who, by their contributions, make a swimming pool available for the President in the White House,” Dr. William Lukash said at a press meeting in January 1976. “I might add that the President was reluctant to use the pool during the winter months because of his concern about energy conservation. I spoke to him about this and felt it was to his advantage to have the use of this pool because I thought it would be an improvement in his sense of well-being and make him more conducive to his feeling better the next day. … The President swims approximately 24 lengths of the pool, which adds up to about a quarter of a mile, and he does this in about 14 minutes.”

Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989

Bush’s press assistant said in a statement that a “sebaceous cyst on the third finger of his left hand was drained. The President is wearing a Band-Aid on the finger, which he can remove within the next few hours. This cyst has been present for many years and does not present a medical problem.”

“In excellent health,” Reagan was told by the White House physician after being checked out by 14 experts in October 1981. Notably, he said that the president had “fully recovered” from the gunshot wounds he got in March 1981 during an attempt on his life.

In May 1984, Reagan had another exam, and this time, his doctor said he was in “very exceptional physical condition.” The doctors did find a small polyp in his colon, which they removed and found to be harmless. Similar polyps were found and removed during the president’s checkups in 1985 and 1988. Other than that, Reagan’s tests this year were found to be “entirely normal.”

While President Reagan was getting checked out in March 1985, the White House doctor said, “President Reagan continues to enjoy good health. His overall physical and mental condition is excellent. I am especially impressed with the fact that his blood pressure is lower than a year ago – this is quite remarkable.”

Reagan’s last recorded exam was in December 1988, while he was still in office. The president’s doctor said that he was in “remarkable physical condition.”

George H. W. Bush: from 1989 to 1993

After getting checked out in 1989, Bush was found to be in “extremely sound physical condition.” The X-rays, EKG, urinalysis, blood test, allergy test, and dermatological check all came back normal. His hips did show signs of “mild degenerative osteoarthritis, which has been present for several years.

President Bill Clinton, from 1993 to 2001

During a health exam in 1997, Clinton said he was having trouble hearing people when they were talking in large groups. The 42nd president was also given hearing aids after a test of his hearing. He also had a normal cyst taken out of the left side of his chest. The doctors said it looked like one that had been taken out of his nose the year before. He lost 20 pounds by eating better and working out more often, which Clinton said was partly due to his new lifestyle.

After a physical exam in 2001, presidential doctor Dr. Connie Mariano said, “a lesion on his back suspicious for skin cancer was excised. The pathology results … confirmed that the lesion was a superficial basal cell skin cancer. Pathologists noted that the margins of the legion appeared ‘clean’ indicating that the lesion had been totally removed.”


In the CNN special “The Last Heart Attack,” which aired in 2011, Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talked about ways to stop and maybe even reverse heart disease. Clinton told Gupta the truth about his own wake-up call, which was a quadruple bypass surgery in 2004. She also had surgery on her heart in 2010.

“I was lucky I did not die of a heart attack,” he told Gupta.

Clinton became a vegan in 2010 and stopped eating meat, cheese, and eggs.

From 2001 to 2009, President George W. Bush

The letter that summarizes the results of George W. Bush’s health exam in 2001 names the 12 doctors who checked on the president. Two more doctors, including Dr. Richard J. Tubb, who has worked as a White House doctor for the longest time, oversaw and looked over his exam.

Bush has “a history of activity and sports-related injuries,” the report says. In 1998 and 1999, benign polyps were removed from his colon, and he had “mild high frequency hearing loss,” but his speech frequency hearing was “excellent.”

What we also heard was that the president drank diet soda and coffee and smoked “an occasional cigar.” That year, he also said he ran “about three miles four times a week on average” and did cross-training like swimming, lifting weights, and using the elliptical.

The report states: “The President is in the top 2% of men his age in cardiovascular fitness. This fitness level would place him in the Excellent category for men 40-44 and Superior range for men 45 and older. He is stratified to a very low coronary risk profile.”

President Barack Obama, from 2009 to 2017

Obama had four recorded physicals while he was president: in 2016, 2014, 2011, and 2010. The president’s doctor wrote a note for each check and sent it to the acting White House press secretary at the time of each report.

Obama’s letters describe the president’s vital signs, which are all within a healthy range. They also give short descriptions of all of his major body systems and some parts, like the head, ears, nose, and throat. All of the lab tests were negative, including a PSA test for prostate cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends this test for African-American men starting at age 45 because they have a high chance for getting the disease.

In all four of his reports, Obama mentioned the medicines he is currently taking. That same year, the president was told to take vitamin D every day, Nexium “as needed for occasional acid reflux symptoms,” nicotine gum (as needed for ongoing attempts to quit smoking), and Malarone “as indicated during global travel to malaria endemic areas.”

Donald Trump from 2017-2021

Former President Donald Trump shared a report that said he had “exceptional” mental health. This was a thinly hidden dig at Joe Biden on the 81st birthday of the vice president.

The note, which was signed by Trump’s personal doctor, is mostly positive and not very detailed. It says that Trump’s general health is “excellent” and that he did “exceptionally” on cognitive tests.

It also says that Trump has “lost weight through a better diet and continued daily physical activity.” This is said to be the reason why his “laboratory analysis” came back better than previous tests. But there aren’t any specific metrics mentioned.

Trump told the Fulton County Jail in August that he was 6’3″ tall and weighed 215 pounds. Some people on social media said those measurements were the same as Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s, even though Jackson is shorter at 6’2″.

During a 2019 presidential checkup, Trump weighed 243 pounds. At that time, his doctor told him he was “very healthy” generally, but he was technically overweight.

People have been wondering about the 77-year-old’s health for a long time. Trump used the issue as a campaign talking point when he said that Hilary Clinton, who was running for president as a Democrat at the time, didn’t have the “stamina” to do her job.

A string of medical mistakes and what look like efforts to trick the public have only stoked the fire.

In 2015, Trump’s doctor said he would be “the healthiest person ever elected to the presidency.” The doctor later admitted that the patient had written the note.

Some people didn’t trust Trump’s doctors in 2020 because they gave mixed or missing information about the president’s coronavirus illness, which spread quickly.

Also that same year, Trump made headlines for days by talking about how well he did on a test of dementia that he said was an intelligence test. He said the questions were about picking out an elephant and saying “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV” over and over.

How important is the difference in age between Biden and Trump? We asked voters over 60.
As he tries to become the Republican nominee for president in 2024, Trump has frequently criticized Biden’s mental health, calling him a senile puppet that his staff holds up.

And polls show over and over that some people feel the same way.

So, the fact that Trump’s team released the positive medical report on his birthday makes it look like a political move, even though the report itself says that Trump’s most recent “comprehensive examination” took place on September 13.

Biden’s most recent physical, in February 2023, showed that he was in good health, but his falls and stumbling still make national news.






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