President Joe Biden was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday. The White House claimed it was for his first physical exam since becoming president.
The hospital move was announced early Friday morning by White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
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Biden is under anesthesia for a colonoscopy and has temporarily transferred the power of the presidency to Vice President Kamala Harris.
Joe Biden is undergoing a colonoscopy at Walter Reed today
Kamala D. Harris is now Acting President of the United States of America
— Jack Po-So-Bik (@JackPosobiec) November 19, 2021
Biden, 78, had his last exam in December 2019, when doctors found the former vice president to be “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency,” according to a doctor’s report at the time.
Dr. Kevin O’Connor, who has been Biden’s primary care physician since 2009, wrote in a three-page note that the then-presidential candidate was in overall good shape.
In that report, O’Connor said that since 2003, Biden has had episodes of atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that’s potentially serious but treatable. At the time, O’Connor cited a list of tests that showed Biden’s heart was functioning normally and his only needed care was a blood thinner to prevent the most worrisome risk, blood clots or stroke.
Biden had a brush with death in 1988, requiring emergency brain surgery to repair two aneurysms, weak bulges in arteries, one of them leaking. Biden has never had a recurrence, his doctor said, citing a test in 2014 that examined his arteries.
When Biden took office he brought O’Connor back to the White House to continue serving as his doctor, and O’Connor was expected to lead a team of experts in conducting Biden’s physical exam Friday.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, Biden’s team took intense steps to keep the then-candidate and now-president healthy as the virus raged and took a disproportionate toll among older populations. Biden received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccines in December 2020 and his second dose just two weeks before taking office. He received a booster dose, which regulators say provides more enduring protection, in late September.
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Biden was expected to authorize the release of a medical report, as is customary for presidents and presidential candidates. Former President Donald Trump, 75, was attacked by the media for releasing only cursory details on his health while running and serving in the White House, including the seriousness of his COVID-19 illness a month before the 2020 presidential election.
The Associated Press contributed to this article