Is Donald Trump at Risk of Having a heart attack? Donald Trump received his first comprehensive physical exam as sitting president this January (2018) at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Navy Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson conducted the exam and claimed that the President was “in excellent health.”
While such exams are voluntary, presidents can decide which details they wish to disclose to the public. Furthermore, Trump is currently the oldest sitting president in U.S history, and many have questioned the state of his health given his proclivities for fast food meals and scant exercise.
In particular, many have suggested that Trump’s diet puts him at major risk of heart failure, if not a heart attack while in office.
Could Trump have a heart attack? Let’s look at Trump’s health including his diet, exercise routine, stress level, sex life, and sleep habits to determine potential health risks.
1. Trump’s Diet: What Does He Eat?
One of the most fundamental places to begin when assessing an individual’s risk for heart disease of any kind is diet.
Overweight and obese people are at greater risk of heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, cancer, gout, respiratory issues, and even stroke; the popular Weight Watchers program is founded in the belief that a healthy lifestyle and diet can help combat these serious medical conditions.
While the President conducts most of his affairs, both personal and professional, behind closed doors, we do have a general idea of what Donald Trump eats on a daily basis.
Trump has reputedly claimed in press interviews that he tends to skip breakfast, avoiding it in order to prioritize his favorite meal of the day: dinner.
If he must eat what is arguably the most important meal of the day, he opts for McDonald’s McMuffins (one or two) or a portion of crispy bacon and over-medium eggs. He does not consume caffeine in the morning.
Trump’s tendency to avoid calories in the morning is risky. Skipping breakfast has long been associated with coronary heart disease. In fact, a new Harvard study discovered that men who skip breakfast are 27% more likely to experience a heart attack than those who do start their days with a small meal.
The Egg McMuffins aren’t helping Trump out in this regard, either. 36% of a McMuffin’s 300 calories come from fat; one McMuffin delivers a whopping 30% of the daily recommended intake of saturated fats.
The Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation asserts that overconsumption of saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol can elevate a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
• Lunch & Dinner:
Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics! https://t.co/ufoTeQd8yA pic.twitter.com/k01Mc6CuDI
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2016
President Trump does at least consume lunch and dinner, although according to his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Trump will sometimes forgo food for 14 or 16 hours at a time.
For these meals, Trump will opt for his favorites: steaks with sides of ketchup, Big Macs, Filet-o-Fish McDonald’s sandwiches, pizza (without the crust), and chocolate shakes.
Throughout the day, Trump reputedly indulges his penchant for Diet Coke, sometimes drinking up to twelve cans a day. The White House pantry is also allegedly brimming with Lay’s potato chips and bags of Doritos.
Unfortunately, in terms of heart health, Trump’s lunch, snack and dinnertime habits aren’t scoring many points. While routine periodic fasting can be, at times, surprisingly beneficial to your health, fasting that culminates in fast food feasting (Big Macs, etc.) can more than negate those benefits, coaxing the body to consume more saturated fat and carbohydrates than are strictly necessary.
The notable absence of fiber culled from fruits and vegetables, whole grain carbohydrates, and healthy fats in Trump’s current diet is also unsettling. Dietary fiber can improve blood cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
A fast-food diet high in saturated and trans fats also increases one’s risk of heart disease and stroke due to its capacity to elevate blood cholesterol levels. Trump currently takes medication to reduce high levels of blood cholesterol.
While researchers have yet to pinpoint a definitive relationship between sugary beverages like Diet Coke with cardiovascular disease, such beverages have historically been associated with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
2. Trump’s Exercise Routine:
Fitness and stress are additional factors that can either increase or decrease one’s risk of heart disease. Individuals who live high-stress lives are at greater risk of conditions that lead to heart conditions, such as hypertension and high blood pressure.
Following Trump’s January physical exam, the president was encouraged to exercise more. Yet little evidence exists as to whether or not Trump actually follows a legitimate exercise regime, save for his frequent golfing trips. (It’s really hard to find a recent photo of Donald Trump exercising, which isn’t a good sign!)
In fact, Trump seems to believe that copious exercise may actually be counterproductive, as earlier this year he told Reuters:
“A lot of people go to the gym and they’ll work out for two hours and all… Then they get their new knees when they’re 55 years old and they get their new hips and they do all those things. I don’t have those problems.”
OK, so apparently Trump doesn’t think that lack of exercise (or climate change) are an issue. However, a 2012 study revealed that lack of physical activity is a major cause of most chronic conditions, including heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
3. Trump’s Stress Level:
Stress can limit the amount of healthy exercise we engage in on a weekly basis, and it’s been proven that frequent anger and negative emotions can increase risk of heart disease.
Trump’s mental health is a topic of heated debate, but most people would at least agree that he’s an, “angry person.”
Also, the office of the president is notorious for its extreme physiological and emotional demands due to the sheer amount of stress it incurs. and This study seems to confirm that being president is, quite simply, “bad for your health,”
4. Trump’s Sex Life:
Ok, we don’t mean to pry into Donald Trump’s sex life, but it’s relevant to whether he’s at risk of having a heart attack. Why? Because regular sex can reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 50%!
Unfortunately, I don’t there’s positive news when it comes to this heart attack risk factor either, as Melania and Donald are rarely together. In fact, although Melania has moved from New York and now lives in the White House, the couple still sleeps in different bedrooms.
Factor in that Trump is often in Melania’s doghouse due to revelations about various affairs with other women, (Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, etc.) and I have to assume that their physical bond isn’t always strong.
5. Trump’s Sleep Habits:
Trump’s former doctor, Ronny Jackson, stated that Donald Trump only sleeps 4-5 hours per night. That’s far less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night. Yikes!
“You know, I’m not a big sleeper. I like three hours, four hours, I toss, I turn, I beep-de-beep, I want to find out what’s going on.” – Donald Trump, 2016
While some scientists believe about 1% of people, called “short sleepers,” only need 5 hours of sleep, we aren’t sure if Trump is part of that group. However, we do know that for most people lack of sleep doubles the risk of dying from of heart disease.
Trump’s (Real?) Height, Weight, BMI
Let’s look at Donald Trump’s height and weight for more clues to his health and potential risk of a heart attack.
Trump claims that he is 6′ 3″ and weighs 239 pounds. However, many people believe that’s “fuzzy math,”, especially after revelations that Trump dictated most of his own medical report for his doctor to write. (Um, really!?)
Also, that height and weight would put Trump’s BMI (body mass index) at 29.9, just under the “30” level, which would categorize him as “obese,” clearly a distinction that the President would want to avoid.
After Trump’s dubious exam results claimed that height and weight, a number of people trolled Trump mercilessly on Twitter:
Ok, it’s not fair to compare him to a professional athlete, but the idea is that Trump is understating his weight, and maybe adding an inch or two to his height. (His N.Y. driver’s license says 6′ 2″… Fake news!?)
So, it may not be possible to calculate an accurate risk of heart disease from the numbers that Trump’s doctor claims, but let’s try anyway. Using the Mayo Clinic’s Heart Disease Risk Calculator, they give Trump a 30% risk of heart disease.
However, if the President’s weight and resulting BMI is more than he claims, his resulting risk of heart disease and having a heart attack would be higher. (Also, there is no question on the form about, “how many Big Mac’s do you eat a week?” or, “how many angry tweet-storms do you engage in after midnight?” on their calculator!)
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Trump’s Relative Heart Health
Given all of this evidence, what is Trump’s relative heart health?
The American Heart Foundation defines heart health in relationship to cholesterol levels, blood pressure, diabetes, mental health, physical activity, and nutrition.
It suggests that a diet low in salt and unhealthy fats can help maintain a healthy weight and lower blood cholesterol levels. Regular physical activity and healthy social support systems can also contribute to heart health.
We do not have extensive details from Trump’s physical exam to fully answer this question. Yet broad analysis of Trump’s dietary and physical habits suggests that Trump’s heart health is not where it could be.
In fact, Trump’s doctor, Ronny Jackson, did reveal that Trump underwent a coronary calcium CT scan as part of his routine physical exam, and got a score of 133.
Here’s what a 100+ score means:
“A moderate amount of plaque is present. You have heart disease, and plaque may be blocking an artery. Your chance of having a heart attack is moderate to high.”
Yikes, that’s not good! At this point in time, Trump lacks key components of good heart health: regular physical activity and a nutritious, low-sodium, low-fat diet.
Conclusion: Could Trump Have a Heart Attack?
At the end of the day, will Trump have a heart attack?
While it is impossible to confidently answer this question, it is safe to claim that high blood cholesterol levels, poor eating habits, and lack of physical exercise do indeed put Mr. Trump at risk of heart disease.
Accumulated levels of LDL cholesterol–the “bad” kind of cholesterol–can line and clog the body’s arteries, preventing blood flow to the heart. Obstructed blood flow can easily cause a stroke or heart attack.
Certainly, Trump is allegedly taking medication for his cholesterol.
Yet, Trump has not visibly altered his commitment to a diet that is likely contributing to his high cholesterol levels; nor has he demonstrated a desire to implement regular physical activity into his daily routine. The extreme stresses of his professional life are likely not helping his current heart health, either, making heart disease or a heart attack more likely.
The idea that the health of the leader of the free world may be at risk of a heart attack is disconcerting. In fact, in this polarized era of fake news, I imagine that a headline reading, “Donald Trump Suffers Massive Heart Attack” could be met with violence, conspiracy theories, and global chaos!
Lifestyle Changes: What Can Donald Trump Do to Reduce His Risk of Heart Attack?
There are a number of actions that Donald Trump could take immediately to reduce his risk of a heart attack:
- Adopt a healthier diet
- Reduce stress level & anger
- Improve sleep habits
- Increase exercise
- Improve sex life / marital relations
Well, I just don’t see Trump taking the time to improve his diet and lifestyle. (Perhaps Melania could download an app like WW or Noom on his phone?) While there’s nothing we can do to improve Trump’s health and diet, we can certainly improve our own.
So, why not consider living a healthier lifestyle and losing weight with a popular and inexpensive program like Weight Watchers or a free app like Noom or even Factor Meals?