President Obama's Physical: Doctors Pick Apart Results

High cholesterol and virtual colonoscopy attract physicians' attention and ire.

ByABC News
March 1, 2010, 6:28 PM

March 3, 2010— -- The president may be "in excellent health and 'fit for duty'" according to his doctors, but that did not stop physicians around the country from scrutinizing Barack Obama's medical exam results after their release Sunday.

Some gastrointestinal experts questioned the decision to give the president a "virtual" colonoscopy rather than the more accurate -- but more invasive-- conventional screening. Several cardiologists suggested that Obama's rising cholesterol levels would warrant a decision to put him on cholesterol-busting statins. Still, many doctors felt that the recommendations Obama received were appropriate -- namely, stub out his cigarette habit, and eat a bit healthier.

They were recommendations that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated to reporters Monday.

"The bad cholesterol measure was slightly elevated from where it had been previously," Gibbs said. "Obviously, he's a few years older from when it was last measured." But he later added that Obama has likely been indulging in more desserts than he should have over the past year.

"He's just got to use a little bit more presidential restraint," Gibbs said.

A virtual colonoscopy uses X-rays, while a conventional colonoscopy involves the insertion of a flexible tube into the colon while the patient is under anesthesia. A White House spokesman said on background that the president's doctor had his reasons for recommending the virtual procedure -- not the least of which was the fact that the virtual approach would not require the president to be sedated, thus sidestepping possible transfer-of-power issues.