WASHINGTON: Cardiologists not associated with the White House said on Wednesday (Jan 17) that President Donald Trump’s physical exam revealed serious heart concerns, including very high levels of so-called bad cholesterol, which raises the risk that Trump could suffer a heart attack while in office.
Dr Ronny L Jackson, a rear-admiral and the White House physician, said on Tuesday in his report on the president’s medical condition that Trump was in “excellent” cardiac health despite having an LDL cholesterol level of 143, well above the desired level of 100 or less.
Dr Eric Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Research Institute, disputed that rosy assessment.
He said on Wednesday that the most alarming fact is that the president’s LDL levels remain above 140 even though he is taking 10 milligrams of Crestor, a powerful drug that is used to lower cholesterol levels to well below 100.
“That’s a really high LDL,” Topol said, echoing the concerns of other heart experts who reviewed Jackson’s report.
“We’re talking about a 70-plus-year-old man who is obese and doesn’t exercise. Just looking at the lab value, you would raise a big red flag.”
Jackson said he would be prescribing a higher dose of Crestor. He said he is pressing Trump – who is just on the official label of obese – to eat better and exercise.
Jackson said Trump had no history of smoking or drinking and did not have diabetes.
An exercise stress test using a treadmill showed “above average” capacity for his age.
An ultrasound of the heart was normal, he said.
Asked whether Trump has heart disease, Jackson said he did not.
“Technically, he has nonclinical coronary atherosclerosis,” Jackson told reporters.
Outside doctors – who have not directly examined Trump – questioned that conclusion, saying that the combination of Trump’s weight and the cardiac test results raised more concerns than Jackson’s comments would reflect.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, stood behind Jackson’s assessment of the president’s health, noting on Wednesday that he has been a White House physician for 12 years, treating former Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama in addition to Trump.
“He is the only doctor that has weighed in on this matter that has actually examined the president,” Sanders said.