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Biden's doctor says he's 'physically fit;' addresses throat clearing, stiff gait

By Simon Druker & Danielle Haynes
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Biden's doctor says he's 'physically fit;' addresses throat clearing, stiff gait
President Joe Biden gestures upon leaving Walter Reed Medical Center after undergoing a colonoscopy in Bethesda, Md., on Friday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 19 (UPI) -- The presidential physician announced that President Joe Biden is physically fit and able to carry out his duties Friday after undergoing his first annual physical exam in office.

Dr. Kevin O'Connor released a six-page summary of his findings, saying that though Biden is generally fit, he's been experiencing some new physical symptoms since becoming president.

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"President Biden remains a healthy, vigorous, 78-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the president, to include those as chief executive, head of state and commander in chief," O'Connor wrote.

He noted there has been no change in existing issues for which Biden has received treatment -- non-valvular atrial fibrillation, hyperlipidemia and seasonal allergies. He said dental and optometry screenings were normal.

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O'Connor said Biden reported two new physical concerns, including "increasing frequency and severity of 'throat clearing' and coughing during speaking engagements" and a "perceptibly stiffer and less fluid" ambulatory gait.

O'Connor said tests confirmed esophageal reflux possibly worsened by a mild hiatal hernia is likely the cause of the throat clearing and cough, which will be treated through his existing regimen of an acid blocker.

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The change in gait, he added, is consistent with wear and tear changes of his spine which don't require specific treatment beyond existing physical therapy. During a neurological exam on this issue, doctors determined Biden has mild peripheral neuropathy in both feet, which they plan to treat with custom orthotics.

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O'Connor said Biden's foot fracture from last year "has healed nicely."

"A combination of significant spinal arthritis, post-fracture 'limp and compensation' and a mild sensory peripheral neuropathy of the feet are the explanation for the subtle gait changes which I was investigating," O'Connor wrote.

Biden received liquid nitrogen cryotherapy for several skin changes, but there were no areas suspicious of skin cancer. Doctors removed a "3 mm benign-appearing polyp" from Biden's colon during a colonoscopy, testing of which was expected to be completed by early next week.

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Vice President Kamala Harris became the first woman to hold presidential authority while Biden underwent the routine colonoscopy.

Biden underwent the procedure at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland. It involved him going under anesthesia.

The colonoscopy was considered routine and temporarily transferring power to the vice president is commonplace. Former President George W. Bush underwent the procedure multiple times with Vice President Dick Cheney assuming power on each occasion.

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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adult men between ages 45 and 75 get screened regularly for colorectal cancer, including colonoscopies.

In addition to over-the-counter famotidine and fexofenadine, Biden takes apixaban, rosuvastatin and fluticasone.

This week in Washington

President Joe Biden leads a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the North American Leaders' Summit in the East Room of the White House on Thursday. Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

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