Donald Trump has his first medical exam as US president on Friday after a week in which his mental fitness for the job has come under intense scrutiny.
Results of past presidential physicals have included basic data like weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as examinations of the President’s vitamin levels and a screening for age-related diseases. However, Trump’s examination will not include a psychiatric exam, a White House spokesman said this week.
There is no set template for the presidential exam. Past presidents are not known to have been tested for mental acuity while in office - including Ronald Reagan, who five years after leaving the White House was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
There is also a long history of the White House picking and choosing what to reveal about the Commander-in-Chief’s health, however ˙health professionals have raised a series of “big red flags” about Trump’s lifestyle that could potentially lead to a range of debilitating health conditions.
The pressures of the Presidential office were enough to make Barack Obama (who was 42 when he took office) grey-haired within a couple of years, but his last medical in 2016 revealed “excellent” health due to “an adherence to a healthy diet and a consistent exercise program”.
CANDIDATE TRUMP’S 2016 MEDICAL
Despite his unhealthy lifestyle, a letter purportedly written by Trump’s previous doctor and published in the run up to the 2016 election stated he “will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency”.
The document was later called into doubt for a number of reasons, as reported by NBC News at the time.
The letter also contained a number of terms that wouldn’t sound out of place coming from Trump’s own Twitter account, rather than the calm and clinical tones of a medical professional, including:
- ″...his strength and physical stamina are extraordinary.”
- ″... laboratory test results are astonishingly excellent.”
- “Mr Trump[’s exam] showed only positive results.”
In a book published last year, former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, claimed Trump’s preferred evening meal consisted of two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches and a chocolate milkshake.
Nutritionist Fiona Hunter told HuffPost UK: “There are lots of very big red flags in terms of his cardiovascular health – his choice of evening meal is high in saturated fat and short on protective compounds like fruit, vegetables and dietary fibre and this alone will increase the risk of heart disease and stroke but when combined with the fact he doesn’t exercise and has a very stressful job the risks are increased dramatically.”
Trump though does have some healthy lifestyle choices - he doesn’t smoke or drink.
An NHS doctor, who did not wish to be named, told HuffPost UK that high levels of stress, paired with lack of sleep, would lead to high levels of the hormone cortisol.
“The long term activation of the stress-response system can lead to weight gain, cardiovascular disease risk, sleep disruption and memory and concentration impairment.
“This may explain some of Trump’s irrational and disordered thought processes.”
Trump has an interesting view of exercise - according to one source, he reportedly believes the human body is “like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depletes”.
As such it appears the only physical exercise the President engages in are his frequent rounds of golf but even then he tends to use a buggy rather than walk the course.
An NHS doctor said: “Exercise improves cardiovascular health as well as improving mental health and mood.”
And we all know Trump’s moods can be an issue.
The issue of the President’s mental health has split the world of psychiatry - on one side the American Psychiatric Association (APA) this week published a statement reaffirming its commitment to ‘The Goldwater Rule’ which deems it “psychiatrists providing professional opinions in the media about public figures whom they have not examined” unethical.
On the other side of the fence is a group of mental health experts who see it as a duty to warn the public of the potential danger Trump poses.
Trump of course, insists he is a “stable genius”.
And his key to an apparently healthy life?