George H.W. Bush: Routine Physical Examinations 1989-1992


physical exams
 
Bush underwent four complete physical examinations during his four years in office, plus at least one less formal examination. The press releases are available SEE BELOW. The few remarkable findings from the physicals are discussed elsewhere on this page.


actinic keratoses
 
Four "very minute keratoses on the President's face" were removed with liquid nitrogen on March 26, 1992 -- not the first time Bush had had this procedure. No evidence of skin cancer was found SEE BELOW 1a.

More...
The text below, related to Bush's annual physical examinations as President, is from White House press releases in 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1992.


May 10, 1989 -- Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Results of the President's Physical Examination 1b:
President Bush today completed a routine physical examination at Bethesda Naval Hospital and is in excellent health. The President's examination lasted approximately 3 hours. The physical was under the direction of Dr. Burton Lee, the President's personal physician.

``President Bush is in extremely sound physical condition,'' Dr. Lee said. ``He keeps fit through a number of physical activities, which we recommend he continue on a regular basis. Today's examination shows him to be in excellent health. He has no significant symptoms related to any of his organ systems.''

In general, the results of the tests are as follows: chest x ray, normal; x rays of hips show mild degenerative osteoarthritis, which has been present for several years; eye and ear examinations, unchanged; electrocardiogram (EKG), normal; urinalysis shows no abnormalities; blood samples all appear normal; allergy tests showed excellent protective antibody levels; and dermatology examination showed no significant problem or change.

A sebaceous cyst on the third finger of his right hand was drained. The President is wearing a Band-Aid on the finger, which he can remove within the next few hours. This cyst has been present for many years and does not present a medical problem.

Assisting Dr. Lee from the physician staff of Bethesda Naval Hospital were Capt. Ralph Sawyer, ophthalmologist; Capt. Kevin O'Connell, urologist; Capt. Harry Parlette, dermatologist; and Capt.'s Cheryl Rosenblatt and William Ebbeling, allergists.

The physical examination had been announced in a press release the day before 1c:
President Bush will undergo a routine physical examination at Bethesda Naval Hospital at approximately 8 a.m. on Wednesday, May 10, 1989. The President will depart the White House aboard Marine One at 7:50 Wednesday morning and return following the examination at approximately 12:30 p.m.

The President will undergo the following tests: chest x ray, hearing tests, eye examination, electrocardiogram (EKG), allergy examination, urinalysis, dermatology examination, and a complete history and personal examination by Dr. Burton Lee, the President's personal physician. Dr. Lee has taken several blood samples earlier in the week which will be analyzed as part of the examination.

The entire physical will be under the direction of Dr. Lee with assistance from the physician staff of Bethesda Naval Hospital, which will include Capt. Ralph Sawyer, ophthalmologist; Capt. Kevin O'Connell, urologist; Capt. Harry Parlette, dermatologist; and Capt.'s Cheryl Rosenblatt and William Ebbeling, allergists. A written description of the results will be available Wednesday afternoon.


April 12, 1990 -- Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Physical Examination 1d:
President Bush today completed a routine physical examination at Bethesda Naval Hospital and is in excellent health. The President's examination lasted approximately 4 hours. The physical was conducted under the direction of Dr. Burton Lee, the President's personal physician.

``President Bush is in truly excellent health,'' Dr. Lee said. ``He continues to keep extremely fit through vigorous physical activities.''

An early glaucoma of his left eye was detected. Extensive visual testing revealed no loss of any aspect of his visual acuity. He will receive betagan eye drops, 1 drop every 12 hours, and will continue this medication permanently. He has had a stye in his right eye for the past week, which is almost resolved as the result of treatments with soaks and antibiotics.

Among his test results are: chest x-ray, normal; x-rays of hips and neck, mild degenerative osteoarthritis; electrocardiogram (EKG) and stress tests, normal; urinalysis, no abnormalities; blood tests, completely normal, including cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipoprotein levels; dermatology, no significant problem or change; and his allergy problems remain minimal and unchanged.

Assisting Dr. Lee from the physician staff at Bethesda Naval Hospital were Comdr. Steven Fagan, radiologist; Comdr. Boyd Robinson, dentist; Capt. Bruce Lloyd, cardiologist; Capt. Kevin O'Connell, urologist; Capt. Ralph Sawyer, ophthalmologist; Capt. Ted Parlette, dermatologist; Comdr. Tom Jamison, rheumatologist; and Capt. William Ebbeling, allergist.


March 27, 1991 -- Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Physical Examination 1e:
President Bush today completed a routine physical examination at Bethesda Naval Hospital and is in excellent health. The President's examination lasted approximately 5 hours. The physical was conducted under the direction of Dr. Burton Lee, the President's personal physician.

``The President continues in excellent health,'' Dr. Lee said. ``There were no surprises at the physical exam. He remains an extraordinarily vigorous man who continues to thrive on a great deal of physical activity and a rigorous, demanding work schedule.''

Ophthalmologists continue to test the President for any progression of his glaucoma, but his condition remains stable. No treatment appears to be indicated at the present time.

Among his other test results are: chest x-ray, normal; x-rays of hips and neck, mild degenerative osteoarthritis; electrocardiogram (EKG) and stress test, normal; urinalysis, no abnormalities; normal urologic exam; colonoscopy within normal limits; blood tests completely normal, including cholesterol, triglyceride, and lipoprotein levels; dermatology, no significant problem or change; and his allergy problems remain minimal and unchanged.

Note: The statement referred to Burton J. Lee III, Physician to the President.

March 27, 1991 -- Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters in Bethesda, Maryland 1f:
Q.  How did it go? Any problems?   The President.   Perfect go.
Q.  Is that right?   The President.   Yes.
Q.  What took so long?   The President.   Ask Burt. Do you want an official statement? We'll give you Burt Lee.
Q.  Want to know how you feel.   The President.   Feel good. Look, I'm not going to go into any details. I'll leave this to -- --
Q.  We want to know all the details.   The President.   You do not. No, it's fine. It's very good.
Q.  Was it a complete physical?   The President.   Yes, total, everything.
Q.  It was fun?   The President.   I didn't say fun. [Laughter] Just had a nice lunch out here.
Q.  What did you eat?   The President.   I hate to tell you because you'll think I'm an elitist. [Laughter] Lobster. No, it went very well, very well.
Q.  What did they say about your glaucoma?   The President.   Better. Burt, the eyes are better than last year, right?
Dr. Lee.  Yes, the same if not better.   The President.   The same if not better.
Q.  Are you taking -- --   The President.   It's all right, under control.
Q.  What took so long, Mr. President? It seemed like it took longer -- --   The President.   Eyeballs. Eyeballs.
Dr. Lee.  And an excellent lunch.   The President.   Nice lunch. And lack of a desire to go back to work. [Laughter]
Q.  Why is that?   The President.   Because I enjoy it -- he's so darn nice -- the admiral and his troops are wonderful. No, it went very well. So did Barbara. Barbara got a good, clean bill of health yesterday. Well, she has her Graves' problem, but it's much better than would have been expected. So, anyway -- --
Q.  Lobster is not good for the cholesterol.   The President.   Well, I don't have a cholesterol problem.
Dr. Lee.  Absolutely none.   The President.   I'm lucky, really.
Q.  What test results are you still waiting for? Do you have any?
Dr. Lee.  Well, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], the consultants will be coming back to us within the next 2 weeks, and you'll be informed.
Q.  On what?
Q.  -- -- anything like that?
Dr. Lee.  No. Everything is perfectly normal.   The President.   When you were sick I didn't inquire this much into your health. [Laughter]

[Questions about Iraq edited out]

The President.   Listen, I've got to run. Any more physical questions? [Laughter] Would you like some pictures?
Q.  What was your favorite test? [Laughter]   The President.   We're thinking of releasing some beauties here.
Q.  Did they recommend anything for you to do?   The President.   I refer all this to my doctor in whom I have total confidence, Dr. Burton Lee.
Q.  -- -- slow down?
Q.  Did he suggest to cut down on travel?
Q.  More power walks?   The President.   Yes. Yes, everything.

Note: The exchange began at 1:45 p.m. on the grounds of Bethesda Naval Hospital. During the exchange, President Bush referred to Burton J. Lee III, Physician to the President; Rear Adm. Donald Hagen, commander of the National Naval Medical Center ... A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.


August 2, 1991 -- Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Health 1g:
As the President mentioned in his press conference today, he had a routine examination this morning by his personal physician, Dr. Burton Lee. Dr. Lee reports that the President is in excellent health. There are no changes in the President's medication.

The President continues to recover from Graves disease and his treatment and response are normal. The President maintains a vigorous and healthy physical regimen. His work habits are normal and reflect his good health.


March 26, 1992 -- Statements by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Physical Examination 1a:
The President is in great shape. He completed a routine physical examination today at Bethesda Naval Hospital and is in excellent health. The President's examination lasted approximately 4 hours. The physical was conducted under the direction of Dr. Burton Lee, the President's personal physician. ``The President remains in excellent health,'' Dr. Lee said. ``He will continue his normal busy work schedule and physical activity.''

Ophthalmologists continue to test the President for the raised pressure in his left eye, but his condition remains stable and there is no evidence of any development of glaucoma signs or symptoms. No treatment is indicated at the present time.

Among his test results are: chest x-ray, normal; x-rays of hips and neck, mild degenerative osteoarthritis; electrocardiogram (EKG), normal; urinalysis, no abnormalities; normal urologic exam; blood tests completely normal including cholesterol, triglyceride, and lipoprotein levels; and dermatology, no significant problem or change. There is no evidence of any heart disease. His thyroid function remains completely normal, on Synthroid .15 milligrams a day.

[Later in the day, Press Secretary Fitzwater issued the following additional statement on the President's physical examination.]

The President's physical checkup this morning showed no evidence of skin cancer. However, the doctors did ``freeze'' with liquid nitrogen four very minute keratoses on the President's face. These will appear as small dark spots on the President's face and will disappear within a few days. The President has had keratoses removed on previous occasions over the years.

Cited Sources
  1. White House Press Release. [various topics]. George H.W. Bush Public Papers. (Kept in the Bush Presidential Library, College Station, TX).
        
    a  Statements by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Physical Examination, March 26, 1992  b  Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Results of the President's Physical Examination, May 10, 1989  c  Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Physical Examination, May 9, 1989  d  Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Physical Examination, April 12, 1990  e  Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Physical Examination, March 27, 1991  f  Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters in Bethesda, Maryland, March 27 1991  g  Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Health, August 2, 1991

    Comment: Downloaded 26-27 November 2003 from: http://bushlibrary.tamu.edu/papers/


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