On November 20th, President Joe Biden turned 80 years old. From a health perspective, it's still unclear if he's capable of serving as the nation's leader.
Since Biden became the oldest president to hold the office, people are wondering if there is a limit to how old someone can serve as the leader of the nation. On his birthday he officially surpassed Ronald Reagan as the oldest president in history.
In October, Biden said that it's normal to be concerned about the age of people serving in office. He added that it's best to just watch him.
In 1787, the Founding Fathers were debating the age of the president. According to History.com, they were more concerned with an individual who looked like they were too young for the job.
According to the U.S. Constitution's Article II, a candidate for president must be at least 35 years old.
According to Gary J. Schmitt, a scholar at the AEE, he's concerned about the effects of age-related dementia on the ability to perform the job.
He also noted that the likelihood of dying while in office has increased, which means that the American people might elect someone who they haven't seen and vetted seriously.
In his November 2021 health summary, Biden disclosed that he has a medical history of various conditions. Some of these include gastrointestinal reflux, mild sensory neuropathy, and non-valvular AF.
Atrial fibrillation is a type of irregular heart rhythm that occurs when the two upper chambers of the heart do not pump enough blood into the lower chambers.
Normally, the atria beat follows a regular rhythm. However, in people with atrial fibrillation, the atria can beat irregular. This can lead to blood clots.
According to the cardiology association, a blood clot can break off and lodge in an artery, which then leads to the brain.
Some people with advanced age are also treated with blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming. For instance, Biden started taking the medication Eliquis in November 2021.
The medical report indicated that his spine had changed due to arthritis. It also noted that he had a stiffened gait, though it was noted to be less fluid than in the past. His persistent cough and throat-clearing were attributed to acid reflux.
The medical report also stated that a comprehensive neurological exam did not reveal a neurological disorder. However, it confirmed the presence of mild peripheral neuropathy in Biden's feet.
The doctor who conducted the examination attributed his unusual changes in his gait to the effects of a year-old fracture in his right foot.
Dr. Kevin O'Connor, the president's physician, stated that Biden is in excellent health and is capable of performing his duties as the leader of the country.
According to History.com, Ronald Reagan was almost 78 years old when he left office in January 1989.
The website also noted that Reagan survived an assassination attempt and underwent surgery for a cancerous polyp in his colon. He proved that resilience is a quality that's not reserved for younger people.
During a debate with Walter Mondale in 1984, Reagan used his humor to deflect the attention from his age. He said he wouldn't exploit his opponent's inexperience and youthfulness for political purposes.
A study conducted in 2011 revealed that presidents tend to live longer once they're inaugurated compared to their counterparts who were of the same age.
According to Dr. David Siegel, a professor of medicine at New York University Langone, Biden's unusual changes in his gait during the previous year were most worrying. Dr. Siegel also noted that there wasn't a mention of a MRI or cognitive test being administered on the president.
He noted that a stiffening gait can be caused by various conditions, such as normal pressure hydrocephalus and white matter damage. In 1988, Biden had two brain aneurysms, and he also had a bleed in his head.
According to the medical literature, these conditions can lead to cognitive decline in patients.
As the presidential physicals are getting closer, Biden should undergo a comprehensive cognitive assessment. Like Trump did during his time in office, he should also publicize the results of the exam.
In addition, there have been instances where sick presidents have kept their conditions secret from the public. For instance, Woodrow Wilson had a serious case of Spanish flu, and Franklin Roosevelt suffered a stroke. Even though he was still in office, John Kennedy had an undiagnosed heart disease.
Due to Biden's unpredictable behavior, Dr. David Siegel noted that the president's cognitive fitness should be evaluated. He said that Dr. O'Connor has an ethical obligation to perform a neurological assessment to determine the president's functionality.