How Healthy Is President Obama? A Lot Healthier Than Most Of The Other 43 Presidents
On Friday, the White House released President Obama’s medical records, giving Americans their first look into the president’s health in three years. And aside from a minor Vitamin D deficiency, Americans learned that Obama is doing very well. This, combined with Hillary Clinton’s recent pledge to release her health records if she runs for president, had us wondering about the condition of previous U.S. presidents: Who was healthiest? Who was the least? And who was the first to actually tell the public that they had any health issues at all? We rifled through this data from Dr. Zebra and The Health of the Presidents, and, as you will see, in the pantheon of presidential health, a Vitamin D deficiency is no sweat.
George Washington: Malaria, smallpox, tuberculosis, and recurrent dysentery.
John Adams: Heartburn. Adams was also susceptible to mysterious collapses during times of stress, but it’s unclear what caused them. Possible diagnoses include hyperthyroidism and somatization disorder.
Thomas Jefferson: Dysentery, constipation. Jefferson also experienced violent headaches, sometimes for weeks on end, following periods of distress (such as when he was awkwardly rejected by a girl when he was 20).
James Madison: Arthritis.
James Monroe: Malaria, tuberculosis. He also had a single seizure during his last year and office, the cause of which was never determined.
John Quincy Adams: Pretty healthy!
Andrew Jackson: Smallpox, malaria, chronic diarrhea. He also survived a gunshot wound to the chest.
Martin Van Buren: Frequent colds, gout, asthma.
William Henry Harrison: Generally pretty healthy, but he contracted pneumonia after giving a two-hour inaugural speech in blistering cold without a jacket, and died one month into office.
John Tyler: Dysentery, frequent colds. He also experienced a mysterious bout of paralysis when he was 30.
James Polk: Pretty healthy, but died of cholera.
Zachary Taylor: Yellow fever, dysentery, malaria. His cause of death was undetermined, but it may have been typhoid.
Millard Fillmore: Pretty healthy!
Franklin Pierce: Tuberculosis.
James Buchanan: Dysentery.
Abraham Lincoln: There’s been much dispute over Lincoln’s health, and some previous diagnoses (color-blindness, depression) now appear to be erroneous. But he did suffer from malaria, constipation, smallpox, a fever that may have been scarlet, and possibly syphilis. It’s also possible that he was in the early stages of cancer when he died.
Andrew Johnson: Typhoid fever.
Ulysses S. Grant: Pretty healthy until he died of throat cancer.
Rutherford B. Hayes: Pretty healthy!
James Garfield: An undiagnosed malaria-like fever, a weak stomach, and an anal fissure that left him bedridden for weeks.
Chester A. Arthur: Unspecified kidney problems. He also had cardiac problems towards the end of his life.
Grover Cleveland: Typhoid fever, jaw cancer (which was successfully operated upon), diptheria.
Benjamin Harrison: Scarlet fever, several physical breakdowns. Like the the previous Harrison in the White House, he died of pneumonia.
William McKinley: Pretty healthy!
Theodore Roosevelt: Asthma. He was also blind in one eye and deaf in one ear.
William Taft: Skull fracture, typhoid fever, severe obesity (he was 340 pounds when he left the White House), sleep apnea, gout, hypertension, pink eye, atrial fibrillation, chronic cystitis.
Warren Harding: Mumps, possible aphasia and heart disease, unspecified ear problems, hypertension.
Calvin Coolidge: Pretty healthy!
Herbert Hoover: Measles, mumps, chicken pox, diphtheria, and swollen hands from shaking too many hands (seriously). He had his gall bladder successfully removed when he was 75 and an intestinal tumor removed when he was 88.
Franklin Roosevelt: Polio and complete paralysis of his legs, hypertension, iron deficiency, vague gastrointestinal issues and abdominal pain. During his final year, he was visibly not well, but ran for a fourth term regardless as his physician testified, falsely, that he was in excellent health.
Harry S. Truman: Diphtheria, stress headaches, asthma. In a foreshadowing of an incident that befell George W. Bush decades later, Truman once almost choked to death on a peach pit.
Dwight D. Eisenhower: Crohn’s disease, heart attack, a near-fatal bowel obstruction, a stroke while in office, and numerous intestinal obstructions. Unlike his predecessors, Eisenhower issued detailed reports of (some of) his health issues to the public.
John F. Kennedy: JFK was hospitalized more than 36 times in his life, and given his last rites on three separate occasions. He had numerous medical issues, some of which remain undiagnosed. Some of his confirmed ailments include scarlet fever, measles, jaundice, colitis, hyperthyroidism, back problems, and Addison’s disease. Unlike his immediate predecessor, Kennedy and his team flatly denied that he had many of the very serious illnesses that he had.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Pretty healthy, though he had some chest difficulties and died unexpectedly of a heart attack.
Richard Nixon: Pretty healthy from a physical standpoint, although he had a nervous breakdown during the Watergate scandal that left him effectively indisposed as president.
Gerald Ford: Appendicitis and various joint-related issues stemming from his football career.
Jimmy Carter: Hemorrhoids.
Ronald Reagan: Pneumonia, prostate stones, hay fever, colon cancer, skin cancer, Alzheimer’s (possibly while still in office).
George H.W. Bush: Staph infection, ulcers, arthritis, a mucoid cyst, an atrial fib, mild glaucoma, Grave’s disease.
Bill Clinton: Acid reflux, nasal congestion resulting from allergies, a torn tendon in his knee, high cholesterol. He also had successful coronary bypass surgery after leaving office.
George W. Bush: Appendectomy, hemorrhoids, actinic keratoses, a syncopal episode wherein he fainted after choking on a pretzel, colonic polyps.
Barack Obama: Measles, chicken pox, diarrhea. Feeling better now?