(CNN) — President Joe Biden will undergo a routine physical Thursday, with some of the results made public afterward — likely the last health update on the oldest president in history before he launches an expected bid for reelection.
The exam at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland is Biden’s second since becoming president. In 2021, his doctor reported the president was a “healthy, vigorous” 78-year-old fit to serve as commander-in-chief.
Now 80, Biden is likely to undergo a similar round of tests. The White House said this week a summary of findings written by the presidential physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, would be released to the public afterward.
Presidents are under no legal requirement to release information about their health and can choose which details are made public. Reports from the White House physician over the last several decades have consistently described the office-holder as fit to serve.
Biden, who would be 86 at the end of a potential second term, has faced consistent questions about his age and health from conservative critics. Even many Democrats say in polls they are concerned about his age. He has sought to rebut those doubts by pointing to his record and stamina: “Watch me,” he often says to those who point out his age.
More recently, Biden has also questioned the accuracy of polls that show a majority of Democrats want another candidate as their nominee next year. “That’s not what I hear,” he said in an interview with Telemundo last week. “Look, do you know any polling that’s accurate these days?”
At his last physical, the White House did not say whether Biden underwent any cognitive tests, which some doctors recommend for older adults.
The White House originally said Biden would complete his physical by the end of January, but the date slid amid a busy travel schedule.
The last time Biden’s physician provided regular updates on the president’s health was during his bout with Covid-19 last summer. Biden experienced a brief spike in temperature, body aches, a runny nose and fatigue, but was otherwise fine. After taking the antiviral Paxlovid, he experienced a rebound infection, forcing him to remain at the White House for several weeks.
During Biden’s 2021 physical, O’Connor singled out two areas of “observation”: an “increasing frequency and severity of ‘throat clearing’ and coughing during speaking engagements” and the president’s ambulatory gait, or walking abnormality, which O’Connor said was “perceptibly stiffer and less fluid than it was a year or so ago.”
Both have been noticeable elements of Biden’s public appearances since taking office.
In a detailed, six-page summary of Biden’s health, O’Connor said X-rays showed Biden has arthritis of his spine and normal wear and tear damage for someone of his age.
The doctor characterized that damage as moderate to severe, but said it was not severe enough to warrant any specific treatment. He wrote it would help account for some of Biden’s recent stiffness and clumsy gait. An “extremely detailed neurologic exam” was “reassuring,” O’Connor wrote, and showed no evidence of a stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
Biden also has a condition known as a hiatal hernia, which causes him to have reflux — something O’Connor said could account for his more frequent throat clearing.
The document contained a detailed accounting of the physical exam, including his height of 5 feet 11.65 inches; his weight of 184 pounds; and his blood pressure of 120/70. Biden did not drink or use tobacco and worked out five times a week, according to the report.
Biden received a routine colonoscopy in 2021 while at Walter Reed. The procedure, which required anesthesia, meant that he temporarily transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris. Colonoscopies are typically only recommended every 10 years for people ages 45 to 75, and people 76 and older are advised to discuss the screening with their doctor, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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