WASHINGTON — Donald Trump released a letter from his doctor on Thursday that showed the Republican presidential candidate takes cholesterol-lowering medication and is overweight, but concludes that overall he is “in excellent physical health.”
Trump had a physical exam last week and first revealed some details on “The Dr. Oz Show.” He said he’d like to shed a few pounds and that his exercise consists of giving campaign speeches, which he called “a lot of work.” His campaign then released a one-page letter from his longtime physician that said a number of test results were normal.
Until now, Trump had released far less health information than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and Thursday’s TV show and letter were an attempt to address that disparity. Clinton has faced her own increased scrutiny this week after a bout of pneumonia. On Wednesday, she released updated details from her doctor declaring her fit to serve as president.
Trump’s latest letter was more detailed than a four-paragraph summary that his physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, had issued last December. Still, it doesn’t offer a complete picture of the candidate’s health. Here’s a closer look:
Trump’s blood pressure was a good 116 over 70. His total cholesterol was 169; his LDL or “bad” cholesterol was 94, and his HDL or “good” cholesterol was 63. Those are healthy levels, but he does use a cholesterol-lowering statin medication — rosuvastatin, better known as the brand Crestor.
Unusually, the letter doesn’t say what prompted the prescription, presumably cholesterol levels that at some earlier time were high, said Dr. Danforth Lincoln, a family physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who examined the released information.
Trump has recently undergone an EKG, chest X-ray and echocardiogram that were normal. His cardiac calcium score was 98, reflecting only mild plaque in arteries.
His only other listed medication was a low-dose aspirin, which doctors often recommend to lower the risk of heart disease and colon cancer.
The letter put Trump’s weight at 236 pounds and his height at 6 feet, 3 inches. That would give him a body mass index, or BMI, of 29.5, which falls into the category of overweight for his height.
However, Pittsburgh’s Lincoln said that’s not abnormal for a man Trump’s age, especially if the weight contributed to no other problems such as knee pain or hypertension. While typically people are urged to have a BMI under 25, Lincoln noted that increasingly studies suggest that a slightly higher one may be healthier for seniors. Trump is 70, and if elected would be the oldest incoming president.
Judging by the way Trump appears on the campaign trail, “he appears to be healthy,” Lincoln said.
Trump’s blood sugar was normal. He had a normal colonoscopy in 2013 and isn’t due for another any time soon. He had a normal PSA, a test for prostate abnormalities, and liver and thyroid tests were within a normal range. He doesn’t use tobacco or alcohol.
The letter doesn’t disclose other information typically included in health reports, such as details about Trump’s eating and exercise habits and vaccination history. But Trump openly discusses his love for steak, hamburger and fast food in general, and said on the Oz show Thursday that delivering his campaign speeches “is really a healthy act.”
Federal health guidelines urge people over age 65 who have no health conditions that would limit exercise to get about 2½ hours a week of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, and to do some muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week.
The campaign trail itself is arduous, said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University.
“After the campaign, I hope both candidates have a regular exercise schedule because that’s good for all of us,” he said.
Thursday’s letter doesn’t disclose any previous health conditions Trump has had, except that his only hospitalization was for a childhood appendectomy.
It cited no family history of cancer or early heart disease, but mentioned no other conditions. Trump’s parents lived into their 80s and 90s. His father had Alzheimer’s late in life, according to his obituary.
The letter has certain lab results but little context, and no way to know just what’s missing, said Pittsburgh’s Lincoln. He was amused to see it listed Trump’s testosterone level — in the normal range — but not more routine information such as diagnoses, vaccinations and heart rate.
“If you really want to make a real statement about a candidate’s health, you need more information,” he said.