President Biden’s physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor says Biden is “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency” despite a worsening cough caused by gastroesophageal reflux and a stiffer gait when he walks.
O’Connor released a six-page report Friday afternoon that didn’t reveal any more urgent reason for the physical, which featured a colonoscopy using anesthesia that required him to hand over presidential powers to Vice President Kamala Harris for 85 minutes.
Biden’s visit to the Walter Reed Medical Center near Washington wasn’t on his daily schedule and White House press secretary Jen Psaki pointedly declined to answer questions about when the appointment was made.
But O’Connor said his primary goals were investigating Biden’s cough and his changing walk. The colonoscopy was “reassuring” and revealed nothing of concern, he wrote, though “a single, 3 mm, benign appearing polyp was identified in the ascending colon [and] was removed without difficulty,”
Biden’s cough has attracted significant attention this year — forcing Psaki to frequently answer questions about whether Biden, who turns 79 on Saturday, is healthy.
“The President has experienced increasing frequency and severity of ‘throat clearing’ and coughing during speaking engagements,” the doctor wrote in his report.
O’Connor wrote that Biden underwent a variety of tests to look into the issue, which reaffirmed a prior diagnosis that the coughing was caused by stomach acid.
“There were no tumors or polyps, and his vocal cord appearance and function were normal. Tracheal, esophageal and pharyngeal epithelium did show changes associated with persistent gastroesophageal reflux,” he wrote.
The doctor wrote that Biden previously had “several sinus and nasal passage surgeries” to alleviate congestion.
A flexible fibroscopic device “directly confirmed esophageal reflux, possibly worsened by a mild hiatal hernia – which means that the opening as the esophagus (shaped like a tube) enters the stomach (shaped like a jug) is wider than usual, creating an ‘upside down funnel’, thus making it easier for the stomach acid to reflux (or ‘splash’) up into the esophagus, thus causing irritation, inflammation and most notably, mucus.”
The doctor added, “There were no signs of ulcers, cancer or any other serious condition.”
Aditional tests for 19 respiratory pathogens were negative, the report said.
O’Connor said his other primary focus was searching for a reason why “the President’s gait appears to be perceptibly stiffer and less fluid than it has been in the past.”
He said that Biden, who is the oldest-ever president, “does specifically acknowledge early morning stiffness that improves throughout the day.”
“A combination of significant spinal arthritis, post-fracture ‘limp and compensation’ and a mild sensory peripheral neuropathy of the feet are the explanation for the subtle gait changes which I was investigating,” O’Connor wrote.
A foot fracture that Biden said occurred last year after tugging his German shepherd Major’s tail after a shower has “healed nicely,” according to the report.
In recent weeks, the White House has attempted to shrug off questions about Biden’s health, with Psaki blaming a persistent presidential cough on allergies at one point last month.
But Americans have been concerned. A recent poll found that approximately half of all registered voters have concerns about the president’s health.
In recent weeks, the White House has attempted to shrug off questions about Biden’s health, with Psaki blaming a persistent presidential cough on allergies at one point last month.The Politico/Morning Consult survey published Wednesday found that 50 percent of registered voters disagreed with the statement “Joe Biden is in good health,” while only 40 percent agreed and 10 percent did not know or had no opinion.
The poll also found that 48 percent of voters disagreed with the statement “Joe Biden is mentally fit,” while 46 percent agreed and 6 percent did not know or had no opinion.
Americans’ confidence in Biden’s well-being is also split along political lines. Around 87 percent of voters who supported former President Donald Trump in last year’s election disagree that Biden is in good health while 71 percent of Biden supporters believe he is.
Among independent voters, the survey found 54 percent do not believe Biden is in good health and only 31 percent agree that he is. Independent voters had slightly more confidence in the president’s mental fitness, with 47 percent disagreeing he is capable and 42 percent agreeing.
The concern over Biden’s health and age is nothing new.
Last month, a Harvard-Harris poll found that 53 percent of voters have doubts about the president’s fitness while 47 percent do not. In addition, 58 percent of respondents said Biden was too old to be president, while 42 percent felt he was fit enough for the job.
— Additional reporting by Samuel Chamberlain