President Joe Biden is due to receive his annual White House physical today – but doctors warn the results could be “sugar-coated”.
America’s oldest-ever commander-in-chief, 80, has faced serious criticism for his mental prowess after a series of high-profile gaffes, including misremembering names and dates and even failing to shake hands properly with other world leaders.
Evaluation includes a routine physical exam, colonoscopy, and neurological exam.
But some doctors, including President Barack Obama’s former doctor Ronny Jackson, have asked for a cognitive test to be conducted as well – and for the results to be made public.
Others fear the findings of the probe will not be fully disclosed and any health issues the president is facing will either remain undisclosed or be downplayed to the public.
President Biden exits the White House as he heads to Walter Reed Medical Center for his annual physical exam Thursday morning
dr David Scheiner, ex-President Barack Obama’s former doctor, told the Washington Examiner before the physical exam that he expected the White House to “whitewash it.”
“You won’t learn anything. You sugarcoat these things,” he said.
‘Until he’s done [a second term], he will 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 had too many things in his past.
He added: “It worries me that he’s aging. When I look at him, he’s not a young 80s.”
Regarding Biden’s gait, he said, “Gait is not an insignificant factor,” adding that it is “a look at a person’s overall physical, mental capacity.”
Former President Barack Obama’s doctor, Dr. David Scheiner that he expects the White House to “whitewash” the results of Biden’s physical exam.
dr Scheiner said: “The only thing they don’t check is a careful examination of the mind. I don’t think any candidate wants that. They’re afraid they might find something.”
Meanwhile said Dr. Stuart Fischer, an emergency room doctor in New York, told that one of the problems with the president’s annual physical is that it’s “not too specific.”
“First of all, the most important thing would be the blood tests. Secondly, this is a sensitive issue, a urinalysis.
“Someone his age could have prostate problems. There is a blood test called PSA that is very helpful. Definitely a cardiogram. And depending on how many years have passed, 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 level of scrutiny he’s undergoing. Other tests, like an echocardiogram that I’ve had, it’s a routine test and a very good way to measure the heart’s output.”
dr Fischer said Biden’s memory will be tested, but “in a simple way.”
“Neurologically, there is a very simple exam that is done for all patients on sensory, motor, gait, recall, and memory reflexes.”
Things that aren’t part of the exam include “a CAT scan and MRI, a biopsy, or even a stress test,” because they’re not considered routine screening tests, Dr. fisherman.
A stress test monitors a person’s heart rate as they exercise with increasing intensity to look for hidden heart conditions.
At Biden’s age, things can deteriorate very quickly.
dr Fischer said: “You have to expect that other diseases will occur unintentionally. No matter what state of health you are in, other things can happen.
“Health is extremely unpredictable, extremely good and bad. And that’s why regular physical exams and regular contact with the doctor are essential, not just for the President of the United States, but for everyone.”
He added, “Predicting years in advance as people age is fraught with problems.”
Over the years, there has been widespread speculation about President Biden’s intellectual acuity, spurred by a spate of public gaffes that have become increasingly frequent.
He was the oldest president to be sworn into office two years ago at the age of 78. He was the first sitting president to begin his 80th year in office.
Speaking publicly at the White House state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte late last year, Biden’s demeanor suggested something was wrong, such as holding onto Macron’s hand for too long and looking confused.
Biden took Macron’s hand in his and the two hugged and chatted while a French translation of the last segment of Biden’s speech was broadcast over the crowd.
At times, President Macron seemed ready to move away, but Biden was locked away.
Their interaction was peppered with other oddities suggesting the president was distracted or possibly struggling with 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 GP from the UK, said: “Biden is certainly behaving oddly. He looks like he’s taking a little longer to process things and get his bearings.
“He sometimes looks like he has problems. Obviously not a diagnosis, but these are features seen in early dementia.’
The criticism that Biden is not as sharp as his job requires has accumulated in the past year, especially from other politicians.
This represented a marked shift in political rhetoric, which initially claimed that attacking Biden was the lowest possible libel for his age.
But politicians and health experts are increasingly willing to voice concerns about Biden’s suitability for office as gaffes mount.
dr Alex Wills, an Idaho psychiatrist, told President Biden is experiencing undeniable signs of cognitive decline.
He said, “As physicians, it is of the utmost ethical importance not to be ‘armchair quarterbacks’ or to suggest diagnoses of patients with whom we have not personally evaluated.
“Of course, common sense makes us humans wonder what might be going on when there are obvious signs of a possible mental and/or neurological condition.”
Biden urged those who had doubts about his mental fitness to “watch me” in a rare interview with 60 Minutes in September.
“If you think I don’t have the energy level or the mental acuity, then you know that’s one thing,” he said.
“You know, it’s another thing, just watch and, you know, stick to my schedule. Do what I do.’
That interview aired just days before President Biden faced yet another public embarrassment when, following his remarks at the Global Fund Conference, he appeared to stray as he walked off the stage.
In October, Biden caused confusion when he said his son Beau, who died of brain cancer after being subjected to cremation pits in Iraq, died in the war that was being fought there in the early 2000s.
He also had to apologize to the family of the late US Representative Jackie Walorski, who died in a tragic car accident in her home state a month earlier, after he said during a Sept. 28 speech, “Jackie, you’re here ? Where’s Jackie? She can’t be here.”
Despite these concerns, the president is expected to seek re-election in 2024, and a positive outcome of that election could prompt him to announce his re-election bid.