By STEVE PEOPLES and LAURAN NEERGAARD
Michael Bloomberg is in “outstanding health,” but a letter from his doctor released Thursday notes that the 77-year-old Democratic presidential candidate is receiving treatment for several medical conditions, including an irregular heartbeat.
Bloomberg takes a beta blocker and medication to control his cholesterol, Dr. Stephen D. Sisson wrote, adding that he had “small skin cancers” removed and receives treatment for arthritis and heartburn, “both of which are well controlled.” The report also notes that Bloomberg had a stent put in his heart to clear an artery in 2000 and “has had normal cardiac stress testing annually since then.”
“Mr. Bloomberg is a 77-year-old man in outstanding health. There are no medical concerns, present or looming, that would prevent him from serving as President of the United States,” wrote Sisson, a professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, where the New York billionaire has been treated for years.
Last year, Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, developed an “atrial fibrillation,” a type of irregular heartbeat that can increase the risk of stroke or a blood clot, for which he takes a blood thinner, Sisson said.
The presidential candidates’ health has taken on more significance in 2020 given the unusually high age of several White House hopefuls. President Donald Trump is 73 years old, while three of the four top-tier Democrats are in their 70s: Bernie Sanders is the oldest at 78, Joe Biden is 77 and Elizabeth Warren is 70.
Warren last week became the first Democratic White House hopeful to share a letter from her doctor, revealing that her “only medical condition” is an underactive thyroid gland, which is easily treated by medication. Sanders, who was briefly forced off the campaign trail after suffering a heart attack in early October, said he would release his medical records by the end of the month, while Biden last week reaffirmed his pledge to release his medical records before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucus.
Sisson wrote that Bloomberg is in “great physical shape,” noting that he exercises several times a week, plays golf “avidly” and maintains a pilot’s license. At 5 feet, 7 inches tall, he weighed 165 pounds with blood pressure at 120 over 70 during a July examination.
Sisson noted that Bloomberg is a nonsmoker without a history of substance use disorder or unhealthy alcohol use. “His diet and health habits are excellent,” he wrote.
Bloomberg has had a decadeslong relationship with Johns Hopkins, where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1964. Last year, he committed to donating $1.8 billion to the university to be used exclusively for undergraduate financial aid. It was the largest donation to an academic institution in U.S. history.
Dr. Umesh Gidwani, chief of cardiac critical care at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, reviewed the letter and agreed with the assessment of Bloomberg’s physician.
Heart problems are extremely common in older adults, but the artery that Bloomberg had treated 19 years ago apparently hasn’t re-clogged, thanks to exercise and a statin that keeps his cholesterol under control, Gidwani said.
“It’s a testament to his taking care of himself,” he said. “This man seems to be very disciplined. All the things within his control, he’s controlling.”
About 1 in 10 people over age 65 have atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that is treatable but can potentially be serious. Gidwani said that because tests show Bloomberg’s heart function is normal, the atrial fibrillation can be successfully treated with use of a blood thinner to prevent the most worrisome risk, blood clots and stroke.
Gidwani noted that President George H.W. Bush developed atrial fibrillation while in office.