8 Presidents Who Fell Ill While in Office

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Franklin D. Roosevelt

Much like with Grover Cleveland, FDR would go to great lengths to conceal his true medical condition from the press and the public, not due to another depression but because the United States was in the throws of WWII. The president, not wanting to appear weak, took this concealment so seriously that he tasked the Secret Service with preventing the press from taking any photographs of him in his diminished state.

Already suffering from polio, FDR underwent tests in March 1944, where is was discovered his was also suffering from high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease causing angina pectoris, and congestive heart failure. Although this was being kept from the wider world, FDR knew himself that his time would soon be up, even confiding to a friend he would likely resign from the presidency following the end of the war.

Unfortunately, he would never get that opportunity as on April 12, 1945, while sitting for a portrait, he would fall unconscious after suffering massive intracerebral hemorrhage. He would die a few hours later at 3:35 p.m. Aged 63. He would pass away just a few months before the Axis Powers surrendered from the war he had contributed so much to win.


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Dwight D. Eisenhower

Unlike his predecessors, Eisenhower would be the first president to publicly release information regarding his health and medical records while still in office. Unfortunately, his entourage did not feel the same way and still hid information about his condition and deliberately misled the public. In his time in office he suffered a heart attack, was diagnosed with and underwent surgery for Crohn’s disease, and had a stroke.

His personal physician, Dr. Howard Snyder, even went so far as to falsified his own records after mistakenly misdiagnosing his heart attack as indigestion in an effort to both cover his mistake and to portray the president as healthy and more than up to the job. Eisenhower was characteristically more honest about his protects.

In a confidential letter to his then vice president, Richard M. Nixon, he gave instructions on what to do should he not gain back his faculties or worse still, die as a result of his ailing health. He even went so far as to allow Nixon to determine whether he was competent and capable of performing his presidential duties.

Eisenhower would suffer a total of seven heart attacks until his eventual death, due to congestive heart failure at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, eight years after the end of his presidency in 1969.



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