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Biden gets a clean bill of health as he mulls a 2024 run — where his age is a concern

President Joe Biden at the White House, Jan. 23, 2023, in Washington. The president received a clean bill of health from his personal physician, who said Biden is capable of carrying out his presidential duties.
Evan Vucci
President Joe Biden at the White House, Jan. 23, 2023, in Washington. The president received a clean bill of health from his personal physician, who said Biden is capable of carrying out his presidential duties.

Updated February 16, 2023 at 6:50 PM ET

The president's personal physician Dr. Kevin O'Connor has issued Biden a clean bill of health Thursday and cleared him fit to continue fulfilling his duties as commander in chief.

"The president remains fit for duty, and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations," O'Connor wrote in his report.

Biden finished his physical at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Thursday morning. After a "straightforward" exam, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, Biden returned to the White House to work.

The president's health has come under extra scrutiny because at age 80, he is the oldest person ever to hold the office. If he decides to run for a second term — as he has been widely expected to — he would be 86 at the end of his time at the White House.

Asked in an interview earlier this month whether his age gave him any concern as he weighs whether to run, Biden said: "I would be completely, thoroughly honest with the American people if I thought there was any health problem, anything that would keep me from being able to do the job."

A look at Biden's current health

The most notable event O'Connor noted in his report about the president's health over the past year was an upper respiratory infection from COVID-19 last summer. The initial infection spanned about a week in mid-July, and then Biden experienced a rebound infection a few days later.

"Fortunately, having been fully vaccinated and twice boosted at the time of his initial infection, the president experienced only mild symptoms, consisting mostly of a deep, loose cough and hoarseness," O'Conner wrote.

The president hasn't experienced any residual effects of his infection which could be categorized as long COVID, according to the report.

O'Conner also noted that Biden had a small lesion removed from his chest during a dermatology consultation Thursday. It was sent off for a biopsy, the results of which are pending.

"It is well-established that [Biden] did spend a good deal of time in the sun in his youth," O'Connor wrote. "He has had several localized non-melanoma skin cancers removed with Mohs surgery before he started his presidency."

The report says Biden is being treated for a non-valvular atrial fibrillation, commonly known as a-fib. An echocardiogram showed his heart is operating normally with no signs of heart failure, part of which the report notes is showing "excellent functional capacity."

Not much has changed since last year

Biden had his first physical as president conducted at the Walter Reed in November 2021. His doctor described him as "healthy" and "vigorous" male fit for presidential duty.

That checkup didn't reveal anything unexpected: a lingering cough, caused by acid reflux; a stiffened stride attributed to wear and tear; a formerly fractured foot from playing with his dog the year prior; and he had gained a few pounds.

And though Biden's 2022 physical report listed those same ailments, it also noted that the issues had not gotten worse. He also dropped six pounds, the report said.

Biden's mobility issue is attributed to degenerative "wear and tear" on his spine, the same diagnosis from 2021. O'Conner attributed Biden's coughing and throat clearing to gastroesophageal reflux.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones
Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.
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