For the past several weeks Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been suggesting that Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has impairments. In a December 3, 2015 column, Business Insider columnist Colin Campbell noted:
“Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump says the same two things about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in almost every campaign speech these days.
“His favorite zinger is that Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, doesn’t have the ‘strength or the stamina’ for the Oval Office.
“’One thing with Hillary, she doesn’t have the strength or the stamina to be president. She doesn’t have it,’ Trump said at a Wednesday-night campaign rally in Manassas, Virginia.
“’You ever see Hillary?’ And I said, ‘She doesn’t have the strength, she doesn’t have the stamina,’ Trump later said.”
Mr. Trump’s comments are generally followed by accusations that she spends little time on the campaign trail and must rest up after her infrequent campaign appearances. As with most accusations made by Mr. Trump about his campaign rivals, there is some truth overrun by braggadocio.
The truth is this accusation may, in fact, be more serious than the “one-liner” suggests. In December of 2012, weeks before she was to appear before a Congressional committee regarding her role in the attack by elements of al-Qaeda on our embassy in Benghazi resulting in the death of our ambassador to Libya, Ms. Clinton was hospitalized after, according to her, a fall and resulting serious concussion. I say that because with Ms. Clinton, the first story is never true and even mild digging by reporters generally results in the disclosure of something more serious – and to her more disastrous for her image. As it turns out Ms. Clinton actually suffered a stroke.
While Ms. Clinton eventually acknowledged having a “small blood clot” in her brain as a result of the fall, she refused to acknowledge that she had a stroke. According to the World Heart Federation:
“Ischemic strokes happen when a blood clot (thrombus) or a fatty deposit blocks an artery supplying blood to the brain. Around 80% of all strokes are ischemic in origin. The remaining 20% of strokes are hemorrhagic, where an artery bursts. These can be caused by an aneurysm, a bulge or weakness in the wall of a blood vessel.
“All of us have clotting factors in our blood to ensure we do not bleed to death if we cut ourselves. But conditions like hypertension, atherosclerosis and some other blood problems can lead to the development of blood clots. Thrombosis is the name given to the formation of blood clots. When the clot blocks the blood flow to the heart or the brain, a heart attack or stroke can follow. An embolism occurs when a blood clot travels around the body and lodges in an organ.”
This is not one of those pedantic arguments that the Clintons love to use in order to dissemble. It is, in fact, a very serious thing. However, the Clintons never tell the truth and in the early investigation of Ms. Clinton’s stroke, her personal physician Dr. Lisa Bardack, stated:
“Secretary Clinton developed a stomach virus, leading to extreme dehydration, and subsequently fainted. Over the course of this week we evaluated her and ultimately determined she had also sustained a concussion. We recommended that the Secretary continue to rest and avoid any strenuous activity, and strongly advised her to cancel all work events for the coming week. We will continue to monitor her progress as she makes a full recovery.”
No mention of a stroke. No mention of the “prism” glasses that she was forced to wear. No mention of the extent of rehabilitation that was required.
The use of prism glasses is a regular requirement as a result of some strokes. They are necessary in order to focus the eyes (double vision) for reading purposes. Something that was obvious at Ms. Clinton’s first Benghazi appearance before the House committee on Benghazi on January 23, 2014 – some six weeks following her stroke. Ms. Clinton continued to wear the glasses until at least the date of her resignation on February 1, 2014.
It was Ms. Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, while fending of accusations that Ms. Clinton was trying to “duck” the appearance before the Benghazi committee, that let slip the extent of the rehabilitation that as required after Ms. Clinton’s stroke. On May 14, 2014 ABC News reporter Mary Burnes noted:
“Bill Clinton did more today than defend his wife, Hillary Clinton, from recent accusations leveled by GOP strategist Karl Rove that she suffered brain damage after in December 2012.
“The former president revealed that his wife’s injury “required six months of very serious work to get over,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the Peterson Foundation in Washington.
“’They went to all this trouble to say she had staged what was a terrible concussion that required six months of very serious work to get over,’ he said. ‘It’s something she never low-balled with the American people, never tried to pretend it didn’t happen.’”
Even while dissembling about her putative conditions as a “concussion” Mr. Clinton revealed the seriousness of her actual condition – a thrombotic stroke. More importantly, while Mr. Clinton claims that Ms. Clinton never “low-balled” her condition to the American people, she continues to be less than forth coming about what actually happened and the medical precursors that led to this inevitable stroke.
Ms. Clinton has had other thrombotic episodes. She had a deep vein thrombosis in 1998 and another in 2009. According to a report by the clinical staff of Mayo Clinic:
“Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in your legs. Deep vein thrombosis can cause leg pain or swelling, but may occur without any symptoms.
“Deep vein thrombosis can develop if you have certain medical conditions that affect how your blood clots. Deep vein thrombosis can also happen if you don’t move for a long time, such as after surgery, following an accident, or when you are confined to a hospital or nursing home bed.
“Deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition because blood clots in your veins can break loose, travel through your bloodstream and lodge in your lungs, blocking blood flow (pulmonary embolism).”
A 2012 Hindawa Scientifica article noted:
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) that includes deep vein thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism is a frequent, severe, and potentially lethal disease. After a first episode, VTE has a strong tendency to recur. While VTE is an acute disease, it may have variable outcomes in early and late phases after initial presentation. Furthermore, the incidence of late, clinically important consequences (postthrombotic syndrome and/or chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension) increases in case of recurrent events.” [Emphasis supplied]
In other words, the first venus thrombotic incident was a predictor of subsequent incidents – two of which have already occurred. In a March 2000 Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Dr. Per-Olof Hansson noted:
“The recurrence rate after a symptomatic DVT is high. Patients with proximal DVT, diagnosed cancer, short duration of oral anticoagulation therapy, or a history of thromboembolic events had a higher risk of recurrent events, while patients with postoperative DVT had a lower recurrence rate. This knowledge could help identify patients who might benefit most from prolonged prophylactic treatment in various risk situations.”
In other words, Ms. Clinton is at greater risk of a subsequent stroke than the average citizen. The facts that she will be sixty-nine in 2016, that she is primarily sedentary and that she is participating in a high stress campaign (and an even more stressful position is she is elected President of the United States) simply increases the risk even more.
I do not believe that the condition of Ms. Clinton’s health is a disqualifier for the presidency. However, I do believe that it is a subject for full disclosure and debate. And that disclosure should include the actual medical records for those treating Ms. Clinton and not just a letter summary of her health from her friend Dr. Lisa Bardack. [WebMD notes that Dr. Bardack treats acute pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx and/or tonsils), acute sinusitus (a short-term infection or inflammation of the membranes that line your sinuses), acute upper respiratory tract infections and anxiety phobic disorders – none of which have to do with deep vein thrombosis or ischemic strokes.]
And while it may not serve Ms. Clinton’s best interests, it will serve the interest of American voters who must make a choice for the next President of the United States.