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As Biden battles COVID, some well being problems with previous US presidents had been stored hidden from public

As President Biden, who’s 79 years previous, recovers from his latest analysis of COVID-19, some People might surprise about a number of the different diseases that earlier U.S. presidents battled through the years — lots of which had been stored hidden from the general public.

However first, somewhat extra about Biden’s well being circumstances.

The president not too long ago mentioned throughout a speech that he has “most cancers and … for the longest time, Delaware had the best most cancers price within the nation.”

That remark sparked huge confusion and dialogue.


In a November 2021 memo summarizing Biden’s well being, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s doctor for greater than a decade, acknowledged that Biden had “a number of localized, non-melanoma pores and skin cancers eliminated with Mohs surgical procedure earlier than he began his presidency.”

“These lesions had been fully excised, with clear margins,” the report continued, because the Related Press famous not too long ago.

The identical Nov. 2021 memo about Biden’s well being identified different points that the doctor was following: the growing “frequency and severity” of throat clearing and coughing whereas Biden makes speeches; and the truth that Biden’s ambulatory gait “is perceptibly stiffer and fewer fluid than it was a yr or so in the past.”

His orthopedic historical past advised “a number of cheap explanations” for this, the doctor famous. 

The memo additionally famous that Biden has atrial fibrillation, a situation during which the center beats a bit abnormally.

This is a sampling — not an entire listing, to make certain — of a number of the different well being circumstances that American presidents endured of their lives.

John F. Kennedy (JFK) — the nation’s youngest president to die whereas in workplace — suffered from many continual circumstances throughout his lifetime. 

These had been stored from the general public throughout his presidency in order that he might preserve a picture of youthful vitality, as many sources and biographers have famous.

Kennedy battled continual again ache after struggling a again harm when he was at Harvard in 1937. It required a number of surgical procedures.

His “aura of vitality belied the truth that he was patently unhealthy from an early age,” physicians T. Glenn Pait, M.D., and Justin T. Dowdy, M.D., wrote in an article in The Journal of Neurosurgery: Backbone.

However JFK’s most critical medical situation was Addison’s illness, an endocrine situation recognized in 1947, when he was 30 years previous. 

It is when the adrenal glands do not produce enough quantities of the stress hormone often called cortisol, based on the Nationwide Institutes of Well being (NIH).

Frequent signs embody fatigue, weight reduction and stomach ache; but a trademark symptom is hyperpigmentation on sun-exposed areas of the pores and skin.

When the cortisol ranges change into low, this stimulates the anterior pituitary gland within the mind to launch excessive ranges of one other hormone referred to as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).

ACTH acts on the pores and skin cells often called melanocytes to supply excessive ranges of melanin, inflicting a “bronze” discoloration of the pores and skin, the NIH identified.

“In an odd accident, one of many signs of Addison’s in addition to a symptom of the steroids used to deal with it’s hyperpigmentation, which can be chargeable for JFK’s perpetual ‘tan,’ one thing viewers of his televised debate with Richard Nixon undoubtedly famous,” Historical past defined on its web site. 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), our nation’s longest serving president from 1933 to 1945, was recognized with the paralyzing virus referred to as polio in 1921 when he was 39 years previous, based on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.


“Throughout the summer season of 1921, FDR was having fun with a day of crusing on his yacht when he abruptly fell overboard into the icy waters of the Bay of Fundy, which satirically felt paralyzing to his physique,” the FDR Library defined on its web site. 

However the subsequent day, he complained of decrease again ache, so he went again within the water to alleviate the soreness. 

After his swim, nevertheless, he step by step began to have growing weak point in his legs and couldn’t bear weight inside days, based on the FDR Library.

But it surely took a number of docs to diagnose the situation appropriately. 


Dr. William Eager “insisted” that the reason for FDR’s signs was a blood clot in his decrease spinal twine; but days later he mentioned a spinal twine lesion was chargeable for FDR’s signs.

Nonetheless, when FDR wasn’t bettering, he went for a second opinion. On Aug. 25, 1921, Dr. Robert Lovett recognized FDR with childish paralysis — what’s now often called polio, an infectious illness that primarily impacts kids lower than 5 years previous, per the FDR Library’s web site.

“If somebody had polio as a toddler or younger grownup however had stored or recovered some or all motion of weakened arms or legs, even to the purpose of being athletic afterward, they’ll threat changing into weaker in late maturity,” the CDC famous.

“Lovett defined that to ensure that an individual to fight poliomyelitis, they have to be in good emotional and bodily well being and have a wholesome immune system,” the FDR Library added.

FDR reevaluated how he acquired the illness, recalling that he was sick continuously as a toddler. 

He thought the stress of politics weakened his immune system, which made him “a sufferer of childish paralysis” in maturity, the FDR Library defined.

“The [polio] virus spreads from individual to individual and might infect an individual’s spinal twine, inflicting paralysis,” based on the CDC.


Most individuals won’t develop signs; however some 25% of individuals will get flu-like signs that final two to 5 days, then resolve. Lower than 1% of individuals contaminated with the virus will develop extra critical signs of the mind and spinal twine. 

FDR labored to protect his situation all through his presidency in order to not seem “weak” to the American public. He requested the press not {photograph} him when he was strolling or transferring himself from the automobile so that folks wouldn’t know he was wheelchair certain, based on Historical past.

A doctor seen that Woodrow Wilson, who was inaugurated in 1913 because the nation’s 28th president, started to expertise drooping on one facet of his mouth in 1919. 

That could be a traditional signal of a stroke. 

Later in that yr of his second time period, Wilson discovered himself partially paralyzed when he awoke in the future. But his spouse Edith rallied behind her husband to guard his administration from any public fallout of his well being scare.

“She primarily acted because the president, and the nation was stored in the dead of night about Wilson’s true situation till after his time period resulted in 1921,” based on Historical past.

Vice President Thomas Marshall didn’t assume the presidency on the time as a result of in 1919 he was following Article 2 of the Structure, which said {that a} vice chairman would assume the presidency solely in “dying, resignation, or incapability to discharge the powers and duties of the mentioned workplace,” per Historical past.

The 25th Modification was later ratified in 1967, which set clearer succession guidelines of the president resulting from disabilities.

The American Stroke Affiliation encourages folks to suppose “F.A.S.T.” after they acknowledge signs of a stroke. The acronym stands for facial drooping, arm weak point on one facet of the physique, speech issue and time to name 911.

One president — after he’d left the White Home — selected to inform the American folks about his medical sickness in a letter. 

Ronald Reagan, the nation’s oldest president to be re-elected, wrote a handwritten letter to the American folks about 5 years after he left workplace when he was recognized with Alzheimer’s illness.

“I’ve not too long ago been instructed that I’m one of many hundreds of thousands of People who will probably be troubled with Alzheimer’s illness,” he wrote on Nov. 5, 1994, in a letter addressed to “My Fellow People.”

“In opening our hearts, [Nancy and I] hope this may promote better consciousness of this situation,” Reagan added. 

“Maybe it would encourage a clearer understanding of the people and households who’re affected by it,” the previous president wrote in his for much longer letter.

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