President Trump is in excellent overall health and achieved a perfect score on a cognitive test that the president requested as part of his first formal medical exam since taking office, the White House's top physician announced Tuesday.
Trump's critics have recently questioned his mental fitness — an issue that gained attention in recent weeks over such things as the president's belligerent tweets about North Korea. Trump further inflamed the debate earlier this month when he lashed out at his detractors on Twitter and claimed he is a "very stable genius" while touting his accomplishments. Jackson said Trump requested a cognitive exam to put the issue of his mental fitness to rest.
"There's no indication whatsoever that he has any cognitive issues," Jackson said. "I've found no reason whatsoever to think the president has any issues whatsoever with his thought process."
The assessment he took includes asking a patient to name several animals, draw a clock with the hands at a certain time, copy a cube and recall a shortlist of words. It is not a psychological exam.
Jackson said he would not have given Trump, 71, the assessment if the president had not asked for it. Jackson, who has been the lead White House doctor since 2013, said he has interacted with the president several times a day for the past year and saw no indications of cognitive problems. The president is "very sharp" and "very articulate" in their conversations and does not repeat himself, he said.
Overall, Jackson described a president in excellent health for a 71-year-old man, except for his elevated cholesterol level and his weight, 239 pounds, which qualifies him as borderline obese for a man of his height, 6-foot-3. Even so, Jackson said, the president shows no evidence of heart disease.
His blood pressure, resting heart rate and "ejection fraction" — a measure of the amount of blood his heart pumps with each contraction — are all in the normal range, Jackson said. His vision is sharp, his neurological tests were normal and gastroenterological tests turned up no problems, he said. The president has a fasting blood glucose of 89, which is normal, and no sign of diabetes.
Trump even demonstrated above-average exercise capacity despite his famous aversion to physical activity other than golf, Jackson said.
Asked how Trump could have scored so well despite a high-fat diet, affinity for fast food and lack of exercise, Jackson credited the president's genes.
"It's called genetics," Jackson said, shrugging. "The answer to your question is that he has incredibly good genes, and it's just the way God made him."
Jackson said that the president is eating a healthier diet now that he is in the White House and has a team of chefs cooking for him.
In discussing his health, Trump has noted his parents' longevity. His mother died at 88 and his father lived to 93, though he suffered from Alzheimer's disease for about five years. Trump has said that he has never smoked or imbibed alcohol, which Jackson said has contributed to the president's good health.
Jackson, who appeared in his military uniform in the White House briefing room, said that, based on Trump's results, he expects the president to continue to be healthy for the rest of his term and into a potential second term.
Undergoing a physical is voluntary, and Trump can pick and choose what the public learns about his health. Jackson said there is "absolutely nothing" that is being withheld from the public and that Trump's release of information is "hands down" the broadest in history.
Jackson said 12 other doctors consulted on the physical, which lasted more than three hours.
Before Jackson spoke, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders spent several minutes explaining why his assessment should be trusted. She read a letter written by Richard J. Tubb, a former physician to the president who trained Jackson and vouched for his integrity. Jackson has worked at the White House since 2006 and participated in several presidential physicals, overseeing two of President Barack Obama's exams.
Jackson recommended that the president eat a healthier diet, exercise regularly and lose 10 to 15 pounds.
The president's weight is three pounds more than it was in September 2016, according to a letter Trump released from his personal physician at the time. That letter reported his cholesterol levels were controlled with medication and were within the healthy range for a man his age.
Jackson said that Trump's cholesterol level has jumped to 223, in the elevated range, and his low-density lipoprotein of 143 is borderline high, so he is increasing Trump's medication. Jackson said he hopes to bring down the LDL or "bad cholesterol" score with diet, exercise and statin medication. Trump also takes aspirin daily for his heart, propecia for hair loss, a daily vitamin and an occasional cream for rosacea, a skin condition.
Jackson said he would consult with nutritionists and work out an exercise program for the president. Asked several times what the workouts might consist of, he demurred, but said that Trump "would benefit from a diet that is lower in fat and carbohydrates" and an exercise regimen.
Jackson said that he spoke with Trump about why the president may have audibly slurred his words during a speech on Dec. 6 and asked an ear, nose and throat specialist to look into it.
"We checked everything out and everything was normal," he said. Jackson said that in the days leading up to the speech, he had given the president some Sudafed, which had dried up his secretions and led to the problem. Jackson shot down one theory, saying that the president does not wear dentures.