Top 10 Illnesses in the Oval Office

All eyes are on the President of the United States and their image– from what they say to what they’re eating to what they buy when they move into the White House.  The U.S needs a healthy leader, but some of the past presidents haven’t fared so well in terms of health.  Here’s a look at some of the nation’s 10 unhealthy presidents; hence why the article is titled Top 10 Illnesses in the Oval Office.

1. Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson

This U.S. President suffered from emotion as well as physical problem. When inaugurated into office at the age of 62, he was extremely thin. He had just lost his wife to a heart attack. He himself was not in good health. He suffered from decaying teeth, chronic headaches, failing eyesight and bleeding inside his lungs. There were also two bullet wounds from two duels he participated in.

Of all presidential reputations, Andrew Jackson’s is perhaps the most tricky to sum up or explain. Most Americans recognize his name, though most almost certainly know him (in the words of a famous song) as the general who “fought the bloody British in the town of New Orleans” in 1815. Many polls were taken between 1948 and 2009 and all of them ranked Jackson in or near the top ten presidents, among the “great” or “near great.”

Andrew Jackson left an everlasting imprint upon American politics and the presidency. Within eight years, he melded the shapeless coalition of personal followers who had elected him into the country’s most durable and successful political party, an electoral machine whose organization and discipline would become the basis for all others. In the meantime, his very contentious conduct in office spurred opponents to organize the Whig party. The Democratic party was his child; the national two-party system was his bequest on America.


2. Woodrow Wilson

Woodrow Wilson

He was the U.S. President to rule America during WWI.  The man suffered from extreme hypertension, headaches and double vision. Couple these conditions with a series of strokes that affected his right hand and leaving him unable to write for a year. Increasing strokes also left him blind in one eye and paralyzing on his left side.

He kept his paralysis a secret for most of his later years in presidency. Once it was discovered, the 25th amendment was enacted to allow the VP to take power upon the death of the President, or even resignation or disability.

Wilson is most remembered for his 14 Points. Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points were first outlined in a speech Wilson gave to the American Congress in January 1918. Wilson’s Fourteen Points became the basis for a peace programme and it was on the back of the Fourteen Points that Germany and her allies agreed to an armistice in November 1918.


3. Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland

Cleveland suffered all throughout life with obesity, nephritis and gout. He ultimately discovered a tumor in his mouth (jaw cancer) and underwent surgery to remove part of his jaw and hard palate.  Disfigured, but recovered, he died in 1908 of a heart attack.

He is well known for being the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms in office.


4. William Taft

William Taft

Taft suffered from morbid obesity – the extreme kind. He weighed over 300 lbs, making him the fattest president of the United States. Through aggressive dieting, he was able to lose almost 100 lbs, which he grew back and lost again through his lifetime.  He also suffered from sleep apnea, which caused him to miss his political meeting and high blood pressure and heart problems.

He is well known for creating a progressive system of checks and balances for the U.S federal government, which is still being used today.


5. Bill Clinton

bill clinton

Despite being an avid jogger, Bill Clinton has admitted to a weakness for fast food and a sweet tooth, both of which have placed strain on his arteries.

In 1997 a physical revealed that Mr Clinton had lowered his weight to 196 pounds from an unofficial high of 226 pounds in 1991. The physical reportedly measured his cholesterol level at 179, and his blood pressure at 122 over 68.

However, by his final presidential physical, Bill Clinton’s weight had risen again to 214 pounds, his cholesterol level had increased, and his blood pressure was climbing.


6. Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, suffered from hnearsightedness, prostate stones, bullet wounds, hearing loss and Alzheimer’s. He also had a bout with colon cancer and skin cancer.

It has been speculated that Reagan’s hearing loss was caused to exposure to gunshot noises,while filming Western movies in Hollywood. Up until his election, the hearing loss was moderate, but it slowly progressed into deafness.

With regard to Alzheimer’s, there were speculations about his mental function as early as 1987, just as he underwent a third surgery. In 1994, it was more than apparent that Reagan was beginning to forget things and Alzheimer’s was kicking in.


7. Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt suffered from blindness in his left eye and was deaf in his left ear. He also had his bout with malaria.

He is noted for his enthusiastic personality and his leadership of the Progressive Movement as well as his “cowboy” persona and vigorous masculinity. He was a leader of the Republican Party and founder of the first incarnation of the short-lived Progressive Party.

Roosevelt’s achievements as a naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier are as much a part of his fame as any office he held as a politician. Roosevelt was sworn in as President of the United States in 1901 at the age of 42 making him the youngest president ever; he beat out the youngest elected president, John F. Kennedy, by only 1 year.


8. George Washington

George Washington

U.S.’s first president, George Washington, served from 1789 to 1797. Washington suffered malaria attacks several times in his life, starting at the age of 17 and even had a case of smallpox and dysentery.  He also had a tendency toward depression.

In 1779, Washington developed an abscess of the tonsils, which made him fear for his survival. By middle age, he did not have any of his own teeth left and suffered from hearing loss.

Washington, who estimated to be more than 6-feet, 3-inches tall, was married to his wife, Martha, for more than 40 years. Since Martha had four children from her first marriage and the two never had any of their own, leading researchers to believe that the president was infertile.



9. William Harrison

william harrison

William Henry Harrison was the 9th president. He served the shortest term of any president and was the first to die in office.

Harrison could only eat certain foods, such as milk and cheese products, as had suffered from ulcers and dairy products seemed to relieve his pain. As a result of his restricted diet, Harrison’s tall frame was skinny looking.

On a cold, wet and blustery day in March 1841, Harrison delivered a 2-hour inauguration speech. He caught a cold and did not make a full recovered, probably because of the lack of heat inside of the White House at the time.

The cold turned into pneumonia and liver congestion and he died on March 27, at the age of 68, after just 30 days as president.


10. Lyndon Johnson:
Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon B. Johnson served as the 36th President of the United States from 1963 – 1969. He assumed office after John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

In 1965, over the Labor Day weekend, Johnson suffered a gallbladder attack. Surgery was recommended and although Johnson did not want to inform the public about the operation, he ultimately decided on a policy of full disclosure regarding his condition after consulting with the former President Eisenhower.

The surgery went on for two hours and involved the removal of his gallbladder and a kidney stone. 

Following the operation, Johnson took his disclosure seriously, going as far as to show reporters his scar to illustrate where surgeons had “messed around” in his abdomen.

A few years after leaving office, Johnson died suddenly of a heart attack at his Texas ranch on January 22, 1973.

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