Biden, amid questions about age, to undergo second physical as president Thursday

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden is set to undergo his second physical as president Thursday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, more than a year after his first physical since taking the White House.

Biden, who is 80 years old, says he is weighing whether to seek a second term, and his physical fitness and mental acuity will likely be top of mind for voters if he does run again.

He has largely brushed off those age questions amid speculation about his 2024 plans.

“Look, I’m a great respecter of fate. 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. And and, so we’ll see. But, you know, I just — I think people have to just watch me,” Biden said in an interview with PBS NewsHour earlier this month.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday “you can expect a memo from the physician will be released publicly in the same manner as it was in 2021.”

It’s unclear how long the exam will take, as Biden indicated some portions of the physical had already been completed back in November.

“I’ve gotten my — I will get — part of my physical is already done, and I’ll be getting it before the end of the year,” Biden told reporters on Thanksgiving.

Biden’s first physical as president took place Nov. 19, 2021 — one day before his 79th birthday.

The president’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, wrote following the exam that Biden was a “healthy, vigorous 78-year-old man,” who is “fit for duty” and “fully executes all of his responsibilities without exemptions or accommodations.”

O’Connor said Biden has been under treatment for four different conditions: non-valvular atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heart rhythm; hyperlipidemia, involving higher concentrations of fats or lipids in the blood; gastroesophageal reflux and seasonal allergies.

While Biden got a mostly clean bill of health, O’Connor — who has been Biden’s doctor since 2009 — noted two specific observations: his frequent throat clearing, and a stiffened gate, compared to previous exams.

“The president has exhibited increasing frequency and severity of ‘throat clearing’ and coughing during speaking engagements,” O’Connor wrote.

“He has exhibited such symptoms for as long as I have known him, but they certainly seem more frequent and more pronounced over the last few months,” he added, noting he ascribed this to his gastroesophageal reflux.

Biden also underwent a routine colonoscopy as part of his first physical, requiring him to undergo anesthesia, and briefly transfer power to Vice President Kamala Harris.

Notably since his first physical, the president had COVID-19, and a rebound case of COVID following his Paxlovid treatment in July 2022.

Biden also took a spill while riding his bike in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in June 2022, though he required no medical attention for the fall.

Before he came to the White House, his most recent physical and medical report was one his campaign released in December 2019. That was a three-page summary that declared Biden “a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.”

Biden also suffered a fractured foot just before taking office in November 2020, after he fell while chasing his dog Major at his Wilmington, Delaware, home.

The most notable health incidents in Biden’s past were the two cranial aneurysms he suffered in 1988.

Physicals typically include measures of height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol, although Biden’s 2021 exam also included an exam of his eyes, skin, ears, nose and throat, neurological and pulmonary system, thyroid and even his teeth.

Biden was initially slated to complete his physical by the end of January, though it was delayed due to a busy period of presidential travel, per a White House official.

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