Experts Weigh In On Newly Released Health Information From Clinton, Trump

By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD

Sept. 15, 2016 -- Both presidential candidates released some personal health information Wednesday, with doctors for both stating they are healthy and fit to serve.

Hillary Clinton's health information was contained in a 2-page letter released by her doctor, Lisa Bardack, MD, an internal medicine doctor in Mount Kisco, NY. Donald Trump is expected to provide more detailed information Thursday during a scheduled interview with Dr. Mehmet Oz on his "Dr. Oz'' show, according to a statement issued by the show. Trump reportedly will reveal that he is overweight and provide information on numerous other aspects of his health, from hormone levels to bladder health.

WebMD asked two doctors for second opinions on the candidates' health. Neither has treated either candidate, and both emphasize they are speaking generally.

Hillary Clinton

The letter from Clinton's doctor updates a previous medical statement from July 2015. Bardack also discussed the pneumonia responsible for Clinton's dizziness and stumbling at a September 11 memorial service Sunday. At the time, Bardack said Clinton was overheated and dehydrated; later, it was revealed that Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia days earlier.

Clinton's current medications include:

Bardack diagnosed the pneumonia after a scan of the lungs that also included scanning to assess heart disease risk, producing a ''coronary calcium score.'' It evaluates the amount of calcium in coronary arteries, an indication of heart disease risk. Clinton's calcium score was zero, as it has been in the past. Bardack concludes that Clinton is "in excellent mental condition" and that she is ''healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States."

Second opinion: Clinton's pneumonia was not a surprise, given the amount of activity she's engaged in while campaigning, says Len Horovitz, MD, an internist and lung specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York.

"When you are running around as she is on the campaign trail, you can develop an infection that wouldn't have happened if she had been lying on the couch watching Netflix," he says. Of the Sunday stumbling, he says: "She was probably dehydrated, may have had a fever, that makes you lightheaded, her blood pressure dropped, and she wilted as anyone would."

The calcium score is especially good news, Horovitz says. "A calcium score of zero is like a gold star."

Based on the data she released, Clinton is ''at low risk for cardiovascular diseases," agrees Hossein Bahrami, MD, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine, radiology, and preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

"Her LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) is low and her HDL (good cholesterol) is high, which is excellent," he says. "Coronary artery calcium can range from zero to thousands, and the lower it is, the lower the risk of heart diseases would be."

However, the estimators widely used to assess heart disease risk don't take all factors into account. "For example, physical fitness, obesity, and having certain [coexisting diseases] are not included in these risk estimators,'' and it is left up to the doctor to factor them into any decisions about health, Bahrami says.

Donald Trump

On Thursday's "Dr. Oz" program, Trump is expected to reveal information about his hormone levels, heart and lung health, GI health, and other data. The new information will supplement that given in a letter from December 2015, written by Trump's longtime doctor, Harold Bornstein, MD, a gastroenterologist at Lenox Hill Hospital.

In that correspondence, Bornstein declares Trump healthy. He also states that Trump takes 81 milligrams of aspirin daily (usually prescribed for heart health) and a low dose of a statin (a cholesterol-lowering drug). His PSA test score, a measure of prostate cancer risk, is low.

According to news reports, Oz is expected to term the 6' 2" candidate ''slightly overweight,'' at a reported 236 pounds. At that weight and height, Trump's body mass index, or BMI, would be about 30, which is considered obese.

Trump, who initially said he would only speak generally about health, surprised Oz with results of a recent physical, according to news reports. Members of the audience at Wednesday's taping told the media that Trump told Oz he wants to lose about 15 pounds and said he does not exercise regularly.

Oz said his interpretation of the letter from Bornstein is that Trump has no health issues, one audience member, Kelly Platt, told CNN. According to Oz, Trump's cholesterol decreased to that of a young person after he started taking the statin drug, Platt said.

Second opinion: "Unfortunately, we do not have enough data to estimate the cardiovascular risk in Mr. Trump," says Bahrami.

"However, we know that men, in general, are at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases" than women are, even with the same levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. And if they have additional risk factors, such as obesity or high cholesterol (which is assumed since Trump takes a statin), ''the risk is even higher than that," he says.

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SOURCES: Len Horovitz, MD, internist and lung specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York. Hossein Bahrami, MD, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine, radiology, and preventive medicine, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. New York Times, "Donald Trump Checkup Said to Reveal He Is Overweight," Sept. 14, 2016. Letter, Harold Bornstein, MD, gastroenterologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, Dec. 4, 2015. Letter, Lisa Bardack, MD, internal medicine physician, Mount Kisco, NY, Sept. 14, 2016.

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