Never let reality get in the way, CNN. After the White House released the largely positive data from Donald Trump’s physical, CNN's Sanjay Gupta refused to accept the findings and overruled the doctor who actually examined the President. Asked on Tuesday if Trump had heart disease, Dr. Ronny Jackson responded, “No, not at all… I think he had great findings across the board, but the one that stands out more than anything to me is his cardiac health. His cardiac health is excellent.”
Appearing on Wednesday’s New Day to talk about this, Dr. Gupta contradicted the President’s doctor, claiming, “So the President has heart disease. Those numbers qualify him for having heart disease. And it clearly needs a plan to try and prevent some sort of heart problem down the road.”
Co-host Alisyn Camerota, not a doctor, made dire predictions for the President’s health in the next few years:
So in 2009 the president's calcium score, before he was president, was 34. In 2013, before he was president, it was 98. Today it's 133. And as you see from the little cheat sheet, fine print below, a score of over 100 means a high risk of heart attack or heart disease within three to five years.
Clearly, the President should exercise and eat healthier. His doctor said exactly that. But just because the journalists at CNN didn’t get the expected result (crazy, very ill etc.), doesn’t mean they get to keep the conclusions they already had in mind. That would be… unhealthy.
(For more on CNN’s obsession with Trump’s health, go here.)
A partial transcript is below:
ALISYN CAMEROTA: President Trump getting a clean bill of health. The White House physician did say the president is overweight and does not exercise enough. But, overall, he said his health is excellent.
So let's discuss with CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Dr. Kevin O'Connor, who also Vice President Biden's physician. Okay, gentlemen, it's great to have you here because you see different findings and conclusions in the data and in the results that the -- the exam results that you saw. So, Sanjay, let me start with you. Here is President Trump's official body mass index. He is reportedly yesterday, 6'3" tall, though that is different from previous official exams where he was 6'2". So somehow he has grown while being in the White House. And his weight was 239, meaning his body mass index is 29.9. What do you see here?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA: Yes, I mean, you know, this is -- this is math -- this is based on the numbers that Dr. Jackson provided. And, you know, this is a body mass index ratio. It's -- a body mass index is not a perfect ratio by any means, but it is a good sort of indicator. And at 29.9 means someone is overweight. Thirty, just to give you a little bit of context, means someone is obese. So --
CAMEROTA: OK, so he is that -- that 0.1 away from being in the obese category?
GUPTA: That's right. So, you know, borderline obese I think is what -- is how many doctors would probably describe that.
CAMEROTA: Dr. O'Connor, what do you see in what happened yesterday in the results?
DR. KEVIN O'CONNOR: Well, as far as the results, potato/potato. Somebody is overweight or they're not overweight and I really don't get hung up on a point here or a point there. I don't think they're --
CAMEROTA: But don't you think it's significant if he were in the obese category?
O'CONNOR: It would be a significant word. You know, nobody wants to hear that word. Nobody wants to see that on their chart. But how you would treat it, no, that's not a huge difference.
CAMEROTA: But, Dr. O'Connor, do you think that the president's clean bill of health, that he did pass with the flying colors that the White House doctor was saying, or did you see some -- any warning signs?
O'CONNOR: I didn't see anything distressing. I view physical exams, they're either reassuring or non-reassuring. And President Trump's exam, by all of the information that Dr. Jackson gave is -- seems to be reassuring.
O'CONNOR: There are certainly different colors to paint it with. You -- there's room to grow. I want him to be much more fit. Sleeping better would be a much -- you know, a good thing for him. But it sounds like Dr. Jackson's plan seems to be addressing them and now it's just a matter of compliance.
CAMEROTA: Sanjay, correct me if I'm wrong, but you did see some troubling signs when you look at the data. So let me put up for everybody. There's this thing called the calcium score. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor sometimes encourages you to get a calcium looks to see if the plaque is already building up in your arteries. So in 2009 the president's calcium score, before he was president, was 34. In 2013, before he was president, it was 98. Today it's 133. And as you see from the little cheat sheet, fine print below, a score of over 100 means a high risk of heart attack or heart disease within three to five years. What do you make of these findings?
GUPTA: Well, I mean, that's concerning. I mean I agree with Dr. O'Connor on this point, that you want to take patients at this point in time. And I think what Dr. Jackson was saying yesterday in the White House was, we've assessed the function of President Trump's heart. They did an echo cardiogram, they did a stress test and there was not cause for concern there.
But when you look at the findings you just put up there, Alisyn, there coronary calcium score is a score that a lot of cardiologists use to try and be predictive and be proactive. And if the number gets up at over 100, that is concerning to a lot of doctors. It's concerning because you can start to say, well, if you do nothing different, if you -- if things don't change, you can start to predict the likelihood of having some sort of heart event, cardiac event, a heart attack or something like that, within a certain number of years.
And you see the trajectory of President Trump's numbers. No doubt -- and I think Dr. Jackson alluded to this -- based on -- because of his diet and because of his lack of exercise, that would be part of the reason those numbers have likely gone up. And they have continued to go up despite the fact that he's been on medications. So the president has heart disease. Those numbers qualify him for having heart disease. And it clearly needs a plan to try and prevent some sort of heart problem down the road.
CAMEROTA: Dr. O'Connor, does the calcium score concern you?
O'CONNOR: It concerns me, just like Sanjay said, it's evidence that, yes, the -- they're not the coronary vessels that he was born with, but the function of his heart was better addressed by the stress echo and they were reassuring numbers.
But I look for actionable information. And the -- this is actionable information. We know his cholesterol is suboptimal. He's on an anti- cholesterol medication. And it sounds like Dr. Jackson's going to increase the dose of that, which is appropriate. He's on a baby aspirin a day, which is appropriate. You know, you look at microscopic inflation to see if any of those plaques (ph) are at risk for breaking off and going down range. But it sounds like the things that can be reasonably done for a man with this situation are being done.
The other ways to look at risk are some models that are age-old, the Framingham study --
O'CONNOR: Gives the Farmingham scale. And if you plug in the numbers we received yesterday into that, it puts him around 11 percent, which would be a high/low or a low/intermediate risk, which is about -- is about right.
CAMEROTA: Okay. I want to ask about his cognitive state because questions obviously have been raised recently about that. And there was a moment that was troubling, at least to viewers, where the president slurred his speech at an event. And there was no explanation given for what was happening until yesterday. So let me play that moment to remind people.
[Clip of Trump slurring his words.]
CAMEROTA: OK. So people wanted an explanation. Obviously after that, what was that? It was so different than his normal way of speaking. So yesterday, for the first time, the White House doctor explained that he had given the president Sudafed and that causes dry mouth and that that's what happened that day. That was helpful. But, Sanjay, tell us also what the doctor revealed about any cognitive tests that he gave the president.
GUPTA: Yes. Well, what Dr. Jackson basically said was that at the president's request he administered a cognitive test. And I've just got to point out, I mean I've never heard of a president getting a cognitive test in the 16 years that I've been reporting on this. So this was a bit unusual. I mean it's not often the president asks --
CAMEROTA: Well, but, I mean, maybe it was to put to bed those questions. Maybe the president -- President Trump wanted to put to bed those questions so he specifically asked for it.
GUPTA: Yes. I think that that certainly could be the reason. But it was the president's request for this test. And, you know, to give you a little bit of framework, this is a -- it's a pretty simple test. I mean it's about a ten-minute test. They ask you to identify certain animals on the screen, to be able to count backwards from 100 by seven, to recite as many words as you can beginning with a certain letter, like the letter "f," within a minute. And you get the idea here. Draw a cube. Draw a clock. Things like that. Things that most people are able to do. And the president scored a perfect score, a 30 out of 30, according to Dr. Jackson.