President Obama's Physical: Doctors Pick Apart Results

"I am concerned this sends the wrong message to millions of Americans in several ways. The president is receiving medical care that the average American cannot and probably should not receive, he is being treated in a way not recognized by many medical societies, and he is avoiding a test -- colonoscopy -- that millions of Americans are avoiding wrongly. Not a great way to lead by example."

Still, a number of gastroenterologists applauded the fact that Obama received a colonoscopy at all.

"Any screening for colorectal cancer is better than not being screened at all, so the president is setting a good example by getting a colorectal cancer screening exam," said Dr. John Petrini, past president of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. "Hopefully, his exam will open a dialogue between more patients and their physicians about at what age to screen and which screening option is best for them, as each screening option has appropriate applications and limitations."

Radiologists, too, supported the choice.

"Virtual colonoscopy is an accepted way to screen for colon cancer as recommended by the American Cancer Society," said Dr. Michael Macari, section chief of abdominal imaging at the New York University's Langone School of Medicine. "So I think it is a great choice. You do not want the president of the U.S. under anesthesia if you can avoid it."

Obama's Cholesterol Concerns: Should He Take a Statin?

Even though the president's cholesterol levels have worsened since his last exam in July 2008, most cardiologists contacted by ABC News said that the recommendation of the White House physician to try diet and lifestyle changes first is the right call.

Dr. Clyde Yancy, cardiologist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and president of the American Heart Association, said that according to the American Heart Association's health assessment tool (available at, the president's stats and lifestyle are not all that bad.

"The president gets a score of 7.2 on a scale of 1 to 10 on the AHA health assessment tool; clearly not a bad score and likely better than most Americans, but there is room for improvement," Yancy said. "The major issues here are smoking, lowering the cholesterol and improving the diet."

Still, there is no question the president's cholesterol is on the rise. The results of Obama's last physical showed his total cholesterol to be 173, while his LDL was 96 and HDL, or good cholesterol, was 68, according to The Associated Press. However, this time Obama's total cholesterol was 209, with his HDL having dropped to 62 and his LDL hitting 138.

These levels place him right at the borderline of high cholesterol, which starts at 200 for total cholesterol and 130 for LDL cholesterol -- prompting some cardiologists to suggest that the president should be taking a statin.

Obama "absolutely should be on a statin, especially in view of his smoking," said Dr. Douglas Zipes, editor-in-chief of the journal HeartRhythm.

Cigarettes Have Got to Go, Docs Urge

Other doctors suggested a wait-and-see approach to give lifestyle interventions a chance to take hold.

"Given the big jump from before, I'd advise dietary modification and rechecking in a couple of months," said Dr. Cam Patterson, director of the University of North Carolina McAllister Heart Institute and chief of the division of cardiology at UNC. "If his LDL remained elevated, I'd have a discussion about starting a statin.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...