The health of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has become a priority since Clinton revealed Sunday she was being treated for pneumonia. Now both candidates are expected to release their medical reports this week.
Here are five essential health issues medical professionals are looking for in those reports.
1. Medical History vs Annual Physical Exam
If I had to pick one I’d pick the medical history, hands down.
Let me be clear — checking vital signs, ordering tests and a standard blood panel (cholesterol, liver function, glucose) are essentials in a primary care physician’s tool kit. But looking at test results from just one day in a patient’s life doesn’t tell as much as you might think. When I see a patient for an annual physical, the most important question I ask is, “So tell me, what’s been going on with you in the last year?”
I get a lot of great information that way — everything from their life stressors to colonoscopy appointments. Knowing a patient’s blood pressure has been in the normal range over the last few years is more informative to a doctor than the reading on any single day. So, with the candidates, we’re hopefully going to get more than just a snapshot of one day in their life.
Some test results I’d like to have access to, to see how the candidates’ health has either remained the same or changed over time include:
- Cancer screening tests — such as, colonoscopies, mammograms, PSA tests for prostate
- Cardiovascular testing — cholesterol levels, EKG (measure electrical activity of the heartbeat), stress test, echocardiogram (detects heart disease), blood pressure
- Diabetes — blood sugar levels
And two of the most important health indicators: Waist size and weight.
The list of medications taken by the candidates will help understand what health issues they're both attempting to treat and to prevent. It would be also be a guide for possible side effects the drugs might cause.
4. Chronic Conditions
These are the types of health problems that patients live with day to day. They can treat them and control them, but they don’t cure them.
The candidates will have to deal with them during their presidency; everything from arthritis to heart disease to thyroid disease.
How patients manage chronic conditions is often the greatest indicator of their overall health.
5. Mental Health
As a doctor, I’m aware this category carries perhaps the greatest stigma. But psychiatric diagnoses are like everything else — there’s a range from fully functioning to incapacitating. Knowing the full picture of mental health issues and diagnoses is essential to knowing the candidates’ full health profiles.
With the stress of the job and the split second decisions they might have to make, this is as key as their physical health.
Dr. John Torres is medical contributor for NBC News