So You Want to Talk About American Presidents Health? Okay. Let’s Do It.

Presidents get sick. And Presidents lie about getting sick. Here is a brief history of our heart attack having, pill popping, stroke suffering, secret surgery loving leaders.

Hillary Clinton has pneumonia. On September 11, she fainted and had to leave a memorial event in Manhattan. Now Americans are wondering if a 68-year-old lady who fainted in public on a hot summer day is fit to be President. Let’s see who else was deemed healthy enough to be Commander-in-Chief.

  • Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s. He wasn’t officially or publicly diagnosed until 1994, but witnesses say there were obvious signs during his second term. They say he had trouble remembering basic things and frequently forgot where he was. During his presidency, Reagan experienced urinary tract infections, underwent removal of prostate stones, and suffered from temporomandibular joint disease (TMJ) and arthritis. In 1987, he had operations for prostate and skin cancer.
  • George Bush Sr. was diagnosed with Graves Disease. Graves is a gland disease that makes the immune system attack the thyroid. His wife Barbara also is afflicted with the same disease. Bush also famously passed out at a State Dinner and threw up on the Japanese Prime Minister.
  • Vice President Dick Cheney had a heart transplant. After 5 heart attacks, open heart surgery and a battery-operated heart pump.
  • JFK was in constant pain. He had Addison’s Disease and severe back issues. Kennedy publicly collapsed twice because of the disease: once at the end of a parade during an election campaign and once on a congressional visit to Britain. This was purposefully concealed from the public. The Los Angeles Times reported: “During the 1960 campaign, Kennedy’s opponents said he had Addison’s. His physicians released a cleverly worded statement saying that he did not have Addison’s disease caused by tuberculosis and the matter was dropped.”

JFK also took a wealth of drugs to keep him going, including codeine, methadone, Demerol, Ritalin and barbiturates. Every day. While he was Commander-In-Chief.

  • Dwight D Eisenhower had a massive heart attack in 1955. The public was told it was just chest pains. It wasn’t. He also had a stroke. He then was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and a coronary aneurism. The 4-pack-a-day smoker and heavy meat-eater who frequently had chest pains and other ailments was re-elected in 1956.
  • Lyndon Johnson had severe pain and debilitating pain and gall bladder surgery.
  • FDR was in a wheelchair. The press didn’t discuss because it was rude to talk about such health conditions. He also had heart disease, was constantly tired and had trouble concentrating. According to the Albuquerque Journal “Frank Lahey, a surgeon who examined Roosevelt, wrote a memo saying FDR would never survive another four-year term. The memo was not disclosed until 2011.”
  • Woodrow Wilson had a paralyzing stroke in 1919 more than a year before the end of his second term. For months, the public was told almost nothing about the stroke or his health in general. He also had really bad teeth, as shown in this photo from his 1913 inauguration.
  • Grover Cleveland needed surgery in 1893 to remove a cancerous tumor in his mouth. He had the surgery in secret, on a friend’s yacht off the shore of Long Island.
  • William Howard Taft was the 27th President, abs the most morbid obese. He weighed over 300 pounds. Taft’s weight caused sleep apnea, which disrupted his sleep and caused him to be tired during the day and sometimes sleep through important political meetings. Also due to his excessive weight, he suffered from high blood pressure and heart problems.
  • Andrew Jackson was nicknamed “Old Hickory” and suffered from rotting teeth, chronic headaches, failing eyesight, bleeding in his lungs, internal infection, and pain from two bullet wounds from two separate duels.
  • Our first President was also a very sick man. George Washington came down with many illnesses during his Presidency. This PBS story on details nine different maladies he faced including tuberculosis and diptheria. He also may have had cancer. Dr. Howard Markel told PBS “He (also) had a carbuncle — a bump on his face that some thought was a cancerous tumor. But it could have been caused by streptococcal or staphylococcal. We just don’t know. If it was melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, we still don’t have good treatments for that.”

Our nation's leaders were hardly ailment free. Here’s to your health, American Presidents. You were all just fine. Hillary will be too.