WHEN THE late John McCain was running for president in 2008, questions about his health arose. At 72, McCain would have been the oldest president if elected, and there were issues related to his past treatment for melanoma and his experience as a prisoner of war. McCain dealt with the concerns with his characteristic candor. The Arizona senator made 1,173 pages of his medical records available to the media, setting a standard for accessibility and transparency.

We can’t help but be reminded of — and long for — McCain and his recognition of the people’s right to know in light of the dismissive way Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a top contender to be the Democratic presidential nominee, has sought to deal with questions about his health. At 78, Mr. Sanders, too, would be the oldest president if elected, and in October he suffered a heart attack. He was briefly off the campaign trail but returned with vigor and a promise to release his medical records.

“Of course, we’re — of course, people do have a right to know about the health of a senator and someone running for president of the United States, full disclosure,” Mr. Sanders told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta. “And, we will make at the appropriate time, all of our medical records public for you or anybody else who wants to see them.” Mr. Sanders this week released some information — letters from three doctors attesting to his fitness for office — but it fell far short of his promise of full disclosure. When pressed by reporters if more information would be released, he said, “Probably not.”

Mr. Sanders, like everyone running for president and currently serving as president, should be totally forthcoming about his health. The inadequacy of doctor letters in lieu of records was underscored in 2016 by the ludicrous letter from then-candidate Donald Trump’s gastroenterologist. So far, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), 70, has provided the most information, releasing a letter from her physician and five pages of supporting medical data. Former vice president Joe Biden, 77, released a three-page letter from his physician outlining his current condition and medical history.

The issue of candidates’ health has pronounced significance this year given that three of the top-tier Democratic contenders are, along with President Trump, septuagenarians. But younger candidates, too, have an obligation to provide complete and pertinent medical information. The best way candidates running in 2020 can prove they have nothing to hide is to emulate McCain and open up their medical records.

Read more: