Trump 'mentally sharp', but needs to lose weight

Dr Ronny Jackson said Mr Trump's cardiac health was excellent, crediting the results to genetics and "the way God made him".
Dr Ronny Jackson said Mr Trump's cardiac health was excellent, crediting the results to genetics and "the way God made him".

US President scores top marks on cognitive assessment but needs to shed 4.5 to 6.8kg, doctor says

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump passed a test for signs of dementia and is in overall excellent health, but needs to shed weight by cutting down on calories, fats and carbohydrates and starting a daily exercise routine, the White House physician has said.

Mr Trump, who was coy about sharing medical information during his unconventional 2016 run for office, used his first presidential medical exam - conducted last Friday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre - to try to put to rest lingering questions about his mental fitness for office.

Mr Trump asked his physician, Dr Ronny Jackson, to add a cognitive screening test to the check-up, and authorised him to release a battery of data from the tests.

Dr Jackson said Mr Trump is going to try to lose 4.5 to 6.8kg by eating better and starting to exercise. Mr Trump, 71, is known to enjoy high-fat foods like fried chicken, hamburgers and steak - and, while he plays golf, he does not have a daily exercise routine.

The Navy doctor exhausted reporters' questions during an unusually lengthy, hour-long, session, at Mr Trump's request, and said he did not withhold any information in the interests of privacy.

"He said, 'I want you to get out there and I want you to talk to them and I want you to answer every single question they have,'" Dr Jackson said of Mr Trump.

The 1.9m tall US President is considered overweight and borderline obese at 108kg.

His blood pressure was 122/74, within normal bounds, and his cholesterol was on the high side, Dr Jackson said.

Mr Trump's levels of artery-clogging bad cholesterol and total cholesterol were both below the recommended limits. His fasting blood sugar level was 89 mg/dl - within the healthy range of 70 to 99 mg/dl.

Mr Trump has a resting heart rate of 68 beats per minute.

The physician said Mr Trump's cardiac health was excellent, noting the President had undergone an exercise stress test, and said he consulted cardiologists about Mr Trump's coronary calcium score.

Dr Jackson credited the results to genetics. "It's just the way God made him," he told reporters.

The physician said he would increase Mr Trump's daily dose of Crestor, a cholesterol-lowering drug, and bring in a nutritionist to work with White House chefs. He added that he would design a daily exercise programme for Mr Trump.

"He's more enthusiastic about the diet part than the exercise part, but we're going to do both," Dr Jackson said, adding that he might enlist First Lady Melania Trump to help.

Mr Trump's mental fitness for the job had come under scrutiny after a recently published, controversial book, Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House, portrayed him as childlike and mercurial.

Past presidents are not known to have been tested for mental acuity while in office - including Mr Ronald Reagan, who five years after leaving the White House in 1989 was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, an incurable, degenerative brain condition.

Dr Jackson, who speaks with Mr Trump a few times a day and travels with him, said he did not think the President needed cognitive testing based on medical guidelines - but added the 30-question Montreal Cognitive Assessment at Mr Trump's request.

The test looks for signs of Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Sample questions include asking the patient to draw a clock face, putting in all of the numbers and setting the clock hands to a specific time. The test does not assess psychiatric fitness.

Mr Trump scored 30 out of 30 on the test, Dr Jackson said.

"The President is mentally very sharp, very intact," the doctor said.

While presidents are not required to have a physical or release the results, it has become standard practice.

In a Gallup poll during the 2016 general election, 51 per cent of Americans said the US leader should release all relevant medical information, an increase from 2004 when 38 per cent held that view.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'Trump 'mentally sharp', but needs to lose weight'. Print Edition | Subscribe