President Joe Biden is due to get his annual White House physical today – but doctors warn the results could be ‘sugarcoated’.
America’s oldest ever commander-in-chief, 80, has faced serious criticism about his mental capacity following a series of high-profile gaffes, including misremembering names and dates, and even failing to properly shake hands with other world leaders.
The examination will include a routine physical, colonoscopy and neurological exam.
But some doctors, including former physician to President Barack Obama Ronny Jackson, who now serves as a Texas congressman, have asked for a cognitive exam to be performed too – and for the results to be made public.
Others fear that the results of the examination will not be fully disclosed, and any health issues the President is facing will either not be revealed or downplayed to the public.
President Joe Biden (pictured) will undergo his physical examination today, though experts fear that any negative results will be sugarcoated. Some are also calling for the president to undergo a cognitive exam, and for the results to be published
The majority of Americans think Biden is cognitively impaired,’ Rep Jackson wrote on Twitter.
‘He MUST get a cognitive exam with today’s physical exam, and he must release the FULL RESULTS.’
The exam does not usually include a cognitive portion.
Former President Donald Trump said he took the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, which is used to asses cognitive impairment, as part of his presidential physical.
Dr David Scheiner, ex-President Barack Obama’s former doctor told the Washington Examiner ahead of the physical exam he expected the White House to ‘sugarcoat’ it.
‘You’re not going to learn anything. They sugarcoat these things,’ he said.
‘By the time he completes [a second term], he’ll be 86 years old; I don’t care if he’s in perfect health now,’ Scheiner continued.
‘I don’t care if he’s in perfect health now — which, I can’t believe he’s in perfect health. He’s had too many things in his past history.
He added: ‘It worries me that he is aging. If I look at him, he’s not a young 80.’
On Biden’s gait, he said: ‘the gait is not an insignificant factor’, adding it was ‘a peek into the whole physical, mental capability of a person’.
Dr Scheiner said: ‘The one thing they don’t check is a careful examination of the mind. I don’t think any candidate wants it. They’re afraid they might find something.’
Meanwhile, Dr Stuart Fischer, an emergency care physician in New York, told DailyMail.com that one of the problems with the president’s annual physical exam is that it’s ‘not too specific’.
‘The most important things would be first of all the blood tests. Second, this is a touchy subject, a urine analysis.
‘Someone of his age could have prostate problems. There’s a blood test called PSA that’s very helpful. A cardiogram definitely. And depending on how many years have elapsed, a chest X-ray.
‘These are the basics of an annual physical exam. There are other blood tests, but they’re a little too esoteric. For example, thyroid tests, certain vitamin levels, like vitamin D, which is actually very important.
‘And it depends on the extent of the heightened scrutiny he’s in. Other tests, for example, an echocardiogram which I’ve had, which is a routine test, and is a very good way of measuring the heart’s performance.’
Dr Fischer said Biden’s memory would be tested, but ‘in a simple way’.
‘Neurologically, there’s a very simple examination that is done for all patients on reflexes on sensation, movement, gait, recall, memory.’
Things that do not form part of the exam include ‘a CAT scan and MRI, a biopsy or even a stress test’ because there are not considered routine screening tests, Dr Fischer said.
A stress test involves monitoring someone’s heart rate while they engage in increasingly intense exercise, to check for hidden heart disease.
At Biden’s age, things can deteriorate very quickly.
Dr Fischer said: ‘You have to anticipate other illnesses making their unwanted appearance. No matter what state of health you’re in, other things can happen.
‘Health is extremely unpredictable, extremely good and bad. And therefore regular physical exams and regular contact with the physician is essential, not just for the President of the United States, but everyone.’
He added: ‘Prognosticating years in advance as people get older, is fraught with problems.’
There has been widespread speculation about President Biden’s mental acuity over the years, spurred by a spate of public gaffes which have become more and more frequent.
He was the oldest president ever to be sworn into office two years ago, when he was 78. He became the first sitting president to ring in his 80th year while in office.
In a public appearance at the White House State Dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte late last year, Biden’s behavior indicated that something was off, such as holding on to Macron’s hand for too long and looking confused.
Biden took Macron’s hand in his, and the two embraced and talked while a French translation of the final section of Biden’s speech was broadcast over the crowd.
At times, President Macron appeared he wanted to move away but Biden was locked in.
At 80, Biden is America’s oldest ever president. There is speculation that he will seek reelection in 2024. If he were to win, his second term would end at age 86
Their interaction was peppered with other odd instances that suggest the president was distracted or possibly dealing with a cognitive impairment.
Some have gone so far as to suggest that he may be suffering from the early stages of dementia.
Dr Mike Smith, a general practitioner from the UK, said: ‘Biden is certainly acting peculiar. He looks like he is taking a bit longer to process things and orientate himself.
‘He looks like he is struggling at times. Obviously not a diagnosis but these are traits seen in early dementia.’
The criticisms that Biden is not as sharp as his job requires have built up over the past year, particularly among other politicians.
This represented a marked shift in political rhetoric which, initially, maintained that attacking Biden for his age was the lowest possible smear.
Politicos and health experts have grown increasingly willing to voice concerns about Biden’s fitness to office, though, as the gaffes pile on.
Dr Alex Wills, a psychiatrist in Idaho, told DailyMail.com President Biden was experiencing undeniable signs of cognitive decline.
He said: ‘It is of the utmost importance ethically as physicians to not “armchair quarterback” or suggest diagnoses of patients with whom we have not personally evaluated.
‘Common sense, of course, does make us as humans wonder what may be going on if there are obvious signs of possible mental and/or neurological illness.’
Biden challenged those people in doubt about his mental fitness to ‘watch me’ in September in a rare interview with 60 Minutes.
‘If you think I don’t have the energy level or the mental acuity, then you know, that’s one thing,’ he said.
‘It’s another thing, you know, just watch and, you know, keep my schedule. Do what I’m doing.’
Dr Stuart Fischer (left), an emergency care physician in New York, told DailyMail.com that the physical Biden wil undergo is not specific enough. Dr Mike Smith (right), a general practitioner from the UK, said Biden is exhibiting some of the traits you would expect in dementia
That interview aired just a few days before President Biden faced yet another public embarrassment when he appeared to get lost while walking off stage following his remarks at the Global Fund Conference.
In October, Biden caused confusion when he said his son Beau, who died of brain cancer after exposure to burn pits in Iraq, died in the war waged there in the early 2000s.
He was also made to apologize to the family of deceased US Representative Jackie Walorski, who passed away in a tragic car accident in her home state the month prior, after saying at a speech on September 28: ‘Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie? She must not be here.’
Despite these concerns, the President is expected to run for re-election in 2024, and a positive result from this physical could set him up to announce his re-election bid.
While Biden is reportedly not concerned about his age, many Democrats surrounding him are, according a Politico report.
Rep Dean Phillips, a Minnesota Democrat, told Politico that the party should be promoting competitors for him in the upcoming primary.
‘If he were 15-20 years younger it would be a no-brainer to nominate him, but considering his age it’s absurd we’re not promoting competition but trying to extinguish it,’ he said.
Across the aisle, former South Carolina Governor and Republican Presidential hopeful Nikki Haley said all politicians over 75 should face ‘competency tests’ during a campaign event Wednesday.
While this was interpreted by many as a swipe at former President Donald Trump, the front-runner in the Republican primary, it would also apply to Biden.
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