Biden as America’s oldest president at 80: Nation deserves ‘full neurological evaluation’ from him
President Joe Biden turned 80 on November 20, 2022, and the debate is ongoing, from a health perspective, about his advanced age and the ability of people of that age to hold office longer. top of the country
Biden has surpassed former President Reagan as the oldest president to serve in the White House, and the milestone has people asking: Is there an age too old for someone to be president?
“I think it’s legitimate to be concerned about anyone’s age, including my own,” Biden himself said on MSNBC in October.
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He added: “But I think the best way to judge is to look at me.”
When the Founding Fathers, who were mostly in their 40s, were deciding the president’s age in 1787, they were more concerned about someone looking “too young” than too old, according to History.com.
Article II of the US Constitution specifies a minimum age — 35 — for someone to be president of the United States without setting an upper age limit, the website added.
“I worry about age-related dementia, which work can accelerate given the pressure of the office,” Gary J. Schmitt, a resident researcher for strategic studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told History.
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“But I am also concerned about the higher percentage chance of death while in office, ie [the American people] will vote for one candidate but get someone else we haven’t vetted as seriously.”
Past medical history
President Biden has a significant medical history for nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, gastroesophageal reflux, seasonal allergies, and mild sensory peripheral neuropathy in his feet, according to his November 2021 health summary.
What exactly is atrial fibrillation? The heart is made up of two upper chambers, called atria, which pump blood into its two lower chambers, known as ventricles, according to the American Heart Association.
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It normally contracts and relaxes at a regular rate. But in atrial fibrillation, or aFib, the atria beat irregularly so blood doesn’t flow to the ventricles efficiently, the association added.
This can cause blood clots.
Some patients are placed on blood thinners to prevent this complication, including Biden, who is on a blood thinner called Eliquis as of November 2021.
“If a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke occurs,” the heart association noted on its website.
Depending on their risk factors, including advanced age, some patients are placed on blood thinners to prevent this complication, including Biden, who is on the blood thinner Eliquis as of November 2021.
“Hardened march,” clearing his throat
The medical report also noted a stiff gait that was largely attributed to arthritic changes in his spine, although it was noted that he “was noticeably stiffer and less fluid than in the past.”
The report attributed his persistent cough and throat clearing to his acid reflux.
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A complete neurological exam revealed no neurological disorders, the report noted, but did confirm mild peripheral neuropathy in her feet.
The doctor attributed his subtle changes in gait in part to “limp and compensatory” changes after suffering a fracture in his right midfoot the previous year.
“President Biden remains a healthy, vigorous, 78-year-old man who is in a position to successfully carry out the duties of the presidency, to include those as chief executive, head of state and commander-in-chief ” wrote Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor, the president’s physician.
Longest Presidents in office
Former President Ronald Reagan, the nation’s 40th president, was nearly 78 years old at the end of his second term in January 1989, according to the website History.com.
While in office, he survived an assassination attempt and surgery to remove a cancerous polyp from his colon, proving that resilience is a quality not reserved only for the young, History added.
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Reagan deflected attention from his age with humor during the 1984 debate with Democratic opponent Walter Mondale, joking, “I will not take advantage, for political purposes, of the youth and inexperience of my opponent.”
Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald J. Trump, was 74 years and 200 days old when he left office, according to History.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel in July 2020, Trump said he could successfully recall a sequence of five words on a cognitive screening test.
James Buchanan left office after only one term, at 69 years and 315 days.
Dwight Eisenhower was 70 years and 98 days old when he left office in January 1961.
He survived a major heart attack scare the year before he won re-election, according to the History website.
But James Buchanan, our nation’s 15th president, had his health deteriorate while in office due to the stress of the job. He left office after just one term, at 69 years and 315 days, the same source said.
Is history on Biden’s side?
A 2011 study of the aging of US presidents found that men in the White House tended to live longer once inaugurated compared to men of the same age, “even if they hypothetically age at twice the normal rate while held office”.
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“All living presidents have either exceeded the estimated lifespan of all American men at their inauguration age or are likely to,” the study noted in 2011.
Not all experts, however, agree that the November 2021 medical report was adequate to assess Biden’s functional and mental state.
“Most worrying” of all
“Most troubling was the report that his gait had hardened significantly over the previous year,” Dr. Siegel, a professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, recently wrote in the New York Post.
Biden’s health report did not mention an MRI of the brain or a cognitive test, Siegel added.
A “stiffened gait may be associated with multiple conditions (including white matter damage or normal-pressure hydrocephalus) that cause cognitive impairment.”
Siegel reminded readers that Biden had two brain aneurysms surgically clipped in 1988 and had a bleed on his head.
Both conditions can lead to long-term risks of cognitive impairment in certain patients, according to the medical literature, Siegel added.
“Ongoing evaluation should include a complete neurological assessment.”
Since another annual presidential physical should be given, he advocates that Biden take a full cognitive neuropsychiatric test, as Trump did with the Montreal Cognitive Assessment while in office, and release it publicly, as he did his predecessor.
“Of course, there is substantial precedent for sick presidents hiding their ailments from the public, from Woodrow Wilson’s severe case of Spanish flu (which could affect the Treaty of Versailles) to Franklin Roosevelt’s post-heart failure stroke to Dwight Eisenhower’s heart disease. to John Kennedy’s Addison’s disease, all while he was still in office,” Siegel wrote.
“Factors beyond chronological age”
Other experts suggest that Biden will continue to perform well despite being in his golden years.
“Older people are becoming less similar to each other,” Dr. John W. Rowe, professor of health and aging policy at Columbia University in New York, told Fox News Digital.
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“Factors beyond chronological age, such as race, gender, education level, marital status (being alone is risky, especially for men), access to good health care and a economic status, in addition, obviously, to the general state of health, they have very important impacts,” he added.
“By these criteria, President Biden is in a privileged group and is likely to continue to perform very well for several years.”
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But Siegel is calling for full transparency because Biden’s “erratic” public behavior has cast doubt on his mental fitness.
“Dr. O’Connor has an obligation based on medical ethics to determine the functionality of the president,” Siegel noted. “This ongoing evaluation should include a complete neurological evaluation.”