New Details On President Trump's Physical Exam: What To Make Of Them

By | February 15, 2019

US President Donald Trump boards Marine One upon departure from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on February 8, 2019. Trump was at Walter Reed for his annual physical exam.(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)Getty

If President Donald Trump were a battery, he would be a 243-pound battery. That’s based on a new February 14 memo from White House physician Sean P. Conley, DO.

No, Dr. Conley’s memo about Trump’s February 8, 2019, physical exam didn’t say that Trump is a battery. That would have been a bit weird. The battery reference is from an article in The New Yorker and the book Trump Revealed, which claimed that Trump “believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.”

Instead, here’s Conley’s latest memo regarding Trump’s physical exam:

As you can see, this newest memo offers a bit more details than Dr. Conley’s February 8, 2019, memo, which wasn’t very hard to do. As I described previously for Forbes, the earlier memo included a rather unusual guarantee, stating that Trump is “in very good health” and “will remain so for the duration of his Presidency, and beyond,” without really explaining the reasons for such a conclusion. Batteries may have warranties and guarantees, but typically not human adults. 

As this newer memo described, the annual physical exam lasted approximately four hours, a bit longer than the physical exams that most insurance plans will typically support. The memo stated that eleven different specialists were involved, which really doesn’t say too much. That’s as vague as saying, I had dinner, and eleven different food items were involved.    

What specific findings did this new memo provide? Well, it says that Trump is 72 years in age,  6’3″ in height, and 243 pounds in weight. Trump didn’t seem grow any taller but he apparently is four pounds heavier than his reported weight last year. This new height-weight combination would translate to a body mass index (BMI) of 30.4. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) web site includes a BMI calculator and a list of the following BMI Categories:

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  • Overweight = 25–29.9
  • Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater   

Thus, Trump’s BMI would place him in the obesity category. Those who fall within this category tend to be at higher risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and various other chronic diseases. When it comes to this BMI, Trump would not be alone. In America, about a third of adults (or over 78 million) have obesity.  

According to the memo, “there were no findings of significance or changes to report on his physical exam.” There is some subjectivity to this statement since “significance” can be a relative term. Additionally, Dr. Conley did not provide the list of the medications that Trump is taking. Instead, he only mentioned an increase in Trump’s dose of a cholesterol-lowering medication, rosuvastatin, to 40 mg a day.

Dr. Conley also relayed that lab tests measuring Trump’s liver, kidney, and thyroid function, blood count, and electrolytes were all normal. The only specific laboratory values listed were his total cholesterol (196 mg/dL), HDL (58) and LDL (122). Here is how these values compare to healthy levels as listed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

Type of Cholesterol Healthy Level
Total Cholesterol 125 to 200mg/dL
Non-HDL Less than 130mg/dL
LDL Less than 100mg/dL
HDL 40mg/dL or higher

Oh, and here’s something for anti-vaxxers to consider. Per Dr. Conley, Trump received the Pneumovax 23 (to protect against bacteria that can cause pneumonia) and Shingrix (to protect against Shingles) vaccines.

After last year’s physical exam, then White House physician Ronny Jackson, MD had recommended that Trump get more exercise and lower the amount of fat and carbohydrates in his diet with the goal of losing 10 to 15 pounds, according to David Jackson and Jayne O’Donnell writing for USA Today. Dr. Jackson had said that Trump was “more enthusiastic about the diet part than the exercise part.” 

U.S President Donald Trump presents fast food to be served to the Clemson Tigers football team to celebrate their Championship at the White House on January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)Getty

Given these latest physical exam findings and what science has shown, Trump’s battery theory may not be the best one for him to follow. Both a healthy diet and regular exercise are important pillars of weight management. In an article for Reuters about a year ago, Jeff Mason and Steve Holland quoted Trump as saying, “I get exercise. I mean I walk, I this, I that. I run over to a building next door. I get more exercise than people think.” It isn’t clear how often and regularly Trump thises and thats. But he may want to this and that a bit more.

Forbes – Healthcare