How Medical Research Plays a Role in the Health of Candidates

Campaign for Cures

The Campaign for Cures Election 2016 blog features news, analysis, commentary and data about the presidential candidates and congressional races in key states on issues relevant to medical progress. Janice Lloyd, former USA Today senior editor and health reporter, manages The Campaign for Cures blog. You can reach Janice at   Follow Campaign for Cures, a national voter education initiative, on Twitter and Facebook and visit

How Medical Research Plays a Role in the Health of Candidates

Janice Lloyd

Since Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have come forth with some information about the status of their health, it’s only fair to highlight the role of medical research in helping them lead productive lives and improve the health and well-being of millions of other Americans.

If elected, Clinton, who turns 69 in October, would be the second-oldest President to take office, just behind Ronald Reagan. When he took office in 1980, Reagan was just weeks away from turning 70. Trump, who turned 70 in June, would be the oldest first-term President in history.

Aging adults experience higher risk of chronic disease. Common chronic diseases include heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Since 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended adults receive a core set of clinical preventive services, such as screenings for chronic diseases, in order to lower health risks and prevent or delay onset of chronic diseases.

Getting high blood pressure and cholesterol under control has long been a CDC mission.

High blood pressure is a common condition that increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death for Americans. Research also shows that high blood pressure can affect cognition – the ability to think, remember and reason. That’s another reason why it’s important to check it regularly, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Lowering your cholesterol can reduce your risk of having a heart attack, needing heart bypass surgery or angioplasty, and dying of heart disease. People with high cholesterol have about twice the risk of heart disease as people with lower levels.

According to their physicians, both candidates appear to have blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Clinton's physician has released other details about her health, but  nearly two-thirds of registered voters think both candidates should release more details, according to a new Morning Consult poll. That opinion has grown in the last few months as part of the campaign conversation has focused on their health.

Clinton’s physician, Dr. Lisa Bardack, listed the Democratic nominee’s blood pressure at 100/65 and noted she had healthy cholesterol levels in a March 2015 physical exam. That letter also spelled out Clinton’s medical conditions and the drugs she’s currently taking for them: vitamin B12; antihistamines for allergies; a treatment for hypothyroidism; and the anti-clotting drug Coumadin as a precautionary measure after her 2012 fall in which she suffered a concussion.

At the time, her specialists said she did not suffer any neurological damage and they expected her to make a full recovery. Clinton, then Secretary of State, also likely benefitted from an uptick in concussion research that advises easing back into work in order to let the brain heal.

Despite Bardack’s assertions that Clinton is in excellent health, Trump’s campaign claims Clinton lacks stamina and suffers from neurological damage. Clinton’s response on the Jimmy Kimmel show Monday: that’s a “wacky strategy.”

Donald Trump’s physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, has said his "physical strength and stamina are extraordinary." He lists Trump’s blood pressure (110/65) and assures his "astonishingly excellent" lab test results. Bornstein also says Trump takes daily aspirin and a statin in low doses.

Taking statins, using low-dosage aspirin, recovering slowly from a concussion are healthy strategies that spring from decades of studies and trials -- and cooperation between the public and private sector.

For Clinton’s support of medical progress, click here.

For Trump’s support of medical progress, click here.

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Presidential Candidates Should Participate in Debate on Science

Source: A Research!America and poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in September 2015.