Past presidents’ physicals: What we know so far

Being the president of one of the most powerful nations in the world means being under the spotlight, both during service and long after.

Recently, CNN published an article which revealed the medical record of several former presidents of the United States. These records mostly involve general information such as height, weight, and the overall health state. In the case of former president Obama for example, the record also includes details of his skin tag removal surgery.

Although presidential candidates aren’t required to reveal their health condition with the general public, Jackson did so during a meeting on Tuesday. The following day, he revealed that Donald Trump was in “excellent health.”

From 1974 to 1977: President Gerald Ford


It was in January 1975 that it was revealed by Ford’s doctor that he was “happy to report [Ford] is in excellent health. The results of all medical tests were normal in every way.”

A year later, another physical followed. “He has had no complaints … other than mild discomfort in his knee following periods of prolonged standing. The President has maintained his physical capacity for long working hours. He sleeps very well and continues to follow his diet and weighs between 195 and 198 pounds.”

Ford’s doctor wrote in 1975 that “the completion of the new White House swimming pool will provide him with short intervals for relaxation that can easily be fitted into his busy schedule.

“I would like to take the time to acknowledge those citizens who, by their contributions, make a swimming pool available for the President in the White House,” Dr. William Lukash said at a press meeting in January 1976. “I might add that the President was reluctant to use the pool during the winter months because of his concern about energy conservation, I spoke to him about this and felt it was to his advantage to have the use of this pool because I thought it would be an improvement in his sense of well-being and make him more conducive to his feeling better the next day. … The President swims approximately 24 lengths of the pool, which adds up to about a quarter of a mile, and he does this in about 14 minutes.”

Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1989


Reagan’s physical from 1981, signed by 14 experts who examined him, stated that the president was “in excellent health,” and that he had “fully recovered” from the gunshot wounds he got in March 1981 during an attempt on his life.

It was at one point also revealed that Reagan had a cyst from his finger removed. As per the statement released back in the day, a “sebaceous cyst on the third finger of his left hand was drained. The President is wearing a Band-Aid on the finger, which he can remove within the next few hours. This cyst has been present for many years and does not present a medical problem.”

While President Reagan was getting checked out in March 1985, the White House doctor said, “President Reagan continues to enjoy good health. His overall physical and mental condition is excellent. I am especially impressed with the fact that his blood pressure is lower than a year ago – this is quite remarkable.”

In 1988, while he was still in office, the then-president’s doctor revealed he was in “remarkable physical condition.”

George H. W. Bush: from 1989 to 1993

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Following a checkup in 1989, Bush was found to be in “extremely sound physical condition.” The X-rays, EKG, urinalysis, blood test, allergy test, and dermatological check all came back normal. His hips did show signs of “mild degenerative osteoarthritis, which has been present for several years.

President Bill Clinton, from 1993 to 2001

Gage Skidmore/Flickr/Wikimedia

A checkup done in 1997 revealed that then-president Clinton had troubles hearing, after which he was given a hearing aid.

His medical record revealed that he had a cyst removed from his chest which was the same as the one removed from his nose the year before.

After a physical exam in 2001, presidential doctor Dr. Connie Mariano said, “a lesion on his back suspicious for skin cancer was excised. The pathology results … confirmed that the lesion was a superficial basal cell skin cancer. Pathologists noted that the margins of the legion appeared ‘clean’ indicating that the lesion had been totally removed.”

In the CNN special “The Last Heart Attack,” Clinton spoke of his quadruple bypass surgery in 2004 and his surgery on her heart in 2010.

“I was lucky I did not die of a heart attack,” he told Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

In 2010, Clinton turned to veganism.

From 2001 to 2009, President George W. Bush

U.S. Embassy of New Delhi/Flickr

Bush has “a history of activity and sports-related injuries,” the report of his medical examination from 2001 stated.

In 1998 and 1999, benign polyps were removed from his colon, and he had “mild high frequency hearing loss,” but his speech frequency hearing was “excellent.”

“The President is in the top 2% of men his age in cardiovascular fitness. This fitness level would place him in the Excellent category for men 40-44 and Superior range for men 45 and older. He is stratified to a very low coronary risk profile.”

He revealed he had diet soda and coffee occasionally and also had a cigarette from time to time. It was revealed back then that Bush was very active, doing cross-training like swimming, lifting weights, and using the elliptical.

President Barack Obama, from 2009 to 2017

President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

During his presidency, Obama had undergone four medical checkups. All the reports described his vital signs which were all withing a healthy range.

They also included information of the medications he was taking at the time. He was advised to take vitamin D every day, Nexium “as needed for occasional acid reflux symptoms,” nicotine gum (as needed for ongoing attempts to quit smoking), and Malarone “as indicated during global travel to malaria endemic areas.”

Donald Trump from 2017-2021

Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

As per a medical report signed by Trump’s personal doctor, the former president and business mogul’s general health is “excellent.” Trump shared a report proclaiming his “exceptional” cognitive health on the day of Joe Biden’s 81st birthday.

Regarding the weight Trump lost, the letter by his doctor states it’s a result of “an improved diet and continued daily physical activity.” Further, the doctor claimed Trumps “laboratory analysis” came back more favorable than in prior testing without specific metrics listed.

In 2015, Trump’s doctor said he would be “the healthiest person ever elected to the presidency.” The doctor later admitted that the patient had written the note.

However, as his aspiration to run for president again became a hot topic, a former aide of Trump raised concerns about the business mogul’s health, both his physical and emotional.

This isn’t the first time Trump’s health to be widely spoken about. During his time at the White House, his physical and mental health came under scrutiny and some even saw him unfit as a head of the country. made headlines for days by talking about how well he did on a test of dementia that he said was an intelligence test. He said the questions were about picking out an elephant and saying “Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV” over and over.

When it comes to the current president, Joe Biden, his medical record also shows that he’s in good health but his constant  falls and stumbling still make national news.

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