Health and Medical History of President

Herbert Hoover

President #31: 1929-1933
Lived 1874-1964
"A sound doctor must be opposed to exercise and in favor of tobacco." 1a
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Health and Medical History of President

Herbert Hoover

President #31: 1929-1933
Lived 1874-1964
Lived 1874-1964 2023 1776
Revolutionary War
War of 1812
Mexican-American War
Civil War
Spanish-American War
World War 1
World War 2
Korean War
Viet Nam War
Desert Storm
Bush's Wars
"A sound doctor must be opposed to exercise and in favor of tobacco." 1a

Maladies & Conditions  · croup · childhood ills · snored · healthy despite work · handshake problems · fast easting · gall bladder · shingles · intestinal cancer · deaf and nearly blind · GI hemorrhage

Odds & Ends · Doctors · Resources · Cited Sources

Maladies and Conditions
Almost suffocated from croup at age 2. His Aunt Agnes wrote: "We all thought he was dead. ... The eyes of the infant were pressed closed with pennies; and a sheet was drawn over his body; but after resuscitation by his uncle, John Minthorn, Herbert stirred to life." 1b
childhood ills
Hoover had several health problems as a child, including measles, mumps, diphtheria, earache, and chicken pox. He badly burned a foot when he stepped, barefoot, on a hot iron in his father's blacksmith shop. Another time, he almost chopped off his right index finger while playing with a hatchet. 1b
Reliability of this information is uncertain. 2
healthy despite work
Is reported to have not missed a day of work during his presidency as a result of illness 1c. This was despite a gruelling work schedule and an aversion to exercise MORE. Hoover worked "at all hours" and did not take a single vacation, not counting Rapidan Camp near Washington where he would go for a weekend with a few old trusted friends 3a. "He seemed tense and utterly pre-occupied with the nation's ills" (the Great Depression) 3b.
handshake problems
The annual White House reception, in which Hoover had to shake hands with thousands of visitors, was a problem. His hand was at times so swollen that he could not write for days. Once he received a bad cut from a diamond ring that was turned inward; the reception was abruptly halted. 1a
fast easting
It was observed that Hoover "eats twice as fast as his guests and leaves the table before they have finished" 3c. He averaged nine or ten minutes for dinner, but could do a full course dinner in eight minutes 3d. It's unclear whether this was a lifelong habit, or a product of the enormous workload facing Hoover during the Great Depression. But he was always anxious to get back to work 3d.
gall bladder
Hoover had a gall bladder attack in 1949 (age 75), which he described to reporters as "Much ado about nothing." In 1958, while attending the Brussels World Fair, he developed abdominal pain and was diagnosed with cholecystitis. His gall bladder was removed. 1a
Shingles, while working with the Truman Commission (?1947).
intestinal cancer
A malignant intestinal tumor was removed in his 88th year. Ten months later he had severe gastrointestinal bleeding and seemed terminally ill. He improved. In early 1964, he was frail, but his mind was clear and he maintained a great deal of correspondence. 1a
deaf and nearly blind
In his later he years he was "deaf and nearly blind." 1a Hoover could use this to his advantage. In 1963 there were several celebratory events upon the successful conclusion of NASA's Project Mercury...
Finally there was another banquet, with a lot of speeches. Former president Herbert Hoover was there, sitting next to Walt Williams at the head table. When Jim Webb [the chief of NASA] got up to talk, I noticed Hoover whispering in Williams's ear. I asked about it later.

"He asked who that was," Williams said. "When I told him Jim Webb, he turned his hearing aid off and asked me to poke him when Webb was finished." 4a

GI hemorrhage
Gastrointestinal bleeding recurred in February 1964, and was complicated by pneumonia. He lingered until October, when a severe gastrointestinal hemorrhage occurred. He refused to be hospitalized, and died in a coma on October 20, 1964. 1d
Odds and Ends
During Presidency
Ampres Series
40 reviews
Kansas Series
3 reviews
Signature Series
7 reviews
Hoover6 Series
Hoover6 Series
Hoover6 Series
Hoover6 Series
Hoover6 Series
Hoover6 Series
Cited Sources
  1. Bumgarner, John R. The Health of the Presidents: The 41 United States Presidents Through 1993 from a Physician's Point of View. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland & Company, 1994.
    a  p.203  b  p.201  c  p.202  d  p.204  e  pp.201-202

    Comment: Devotes one chapter to each President, through Clinton. Written for the layperson, well-referenced, with areas of speculation clearly identified, Dr. Zebra depends heavily on this book. Dr. Bumgarner survived the Bataan Death March and has written an unforgettable book casting a physician's eye on that experience.

  2. Dugan, James. Bedlam in the boudoir. Colliers. 22 Feb. 1947; pages 17, 69-70.

    Comment: Credibility is dubious. Just before a list of Presidents, the article states: "Twenty of the 32 Presidents ... are proved or believed on a thick web of circumstance to have been nocturnal nuisances in the White House."

  3. Parks, Lillian Rogers. My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House. New York: Fleet Publishing, 1961.
    a  pp.216, 219  b  pp.219-220  c  p.72  d  p.221  e  p.226  f  p.231  g  p.56

    Comment: This book stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for 26 weeks, prompting Jacqueline Kennedy to require all staff at the White House to sign a pledge agreeing not to write about their experiences (NY Times, page B8, Nov. 12, 1997). Parks's mother, a maid at the White House from 1909-1939, had actually been encouraged by Eleanor Roosevelt to write and publish a memoir (p260).

  4. Kraft, Christopher. Flight: My Life in Mission Control. New York: Dutton, 2001.
    a  p.188
  5. Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh (ed). Burke's Presidential Families of the United States of America. 2nd ed. London: Burke's Peerage Limited, 1981.
    a  p.480

    Comment: Maps -- in great detail -- the ancestors and descendants of American presidents through Ronald Reagan. They would have had an exhausting time with President Obama's family tree! MORE

  6. Ward, Myah. The tooth is out there: Biden gets a root canal. (Published 12 June 2023. Downloaded on 2023-06-16.) Available on the web:
Other Sources
Pubmed Search   (4 matches when checked in March 2013)

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