Biden, 80, to have closely watched physical exam

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden, 80, will undergo a closely watched physical examination on Thursday, ahead of an expected announcement that he is seeking a second four-year term.

Biden’s session with the doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, will be his second extensive exam since he took office in January 2021.

His last physical and colonoscopy, in November 2021, showed the president to be a “healthy, vigorous, 78-year-old male,” his doctors said. He had a polyp removed from his colon.

Biden, already the oldest American to be president, has waved off questions about his age, and had a string of legislative successes in his first two years, but voters are concerned about another four.

About three-quarters of Americans – including more than half of Democrats and the vast majority of Republicans – say Biden is too old to work in government, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted Feb. 6-13. Most Democratic respondents said the president remains mentally sharp but about half of them said he cannot handle the physical toll of the presidency.

Biden would be 86 by the end of a prospective second term, making him 13 years older than the average life expectancy of an American male, according to 2020 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

At his last exam, Biden’s White House physician, Kevin O’Connor, declared him fit for duty and able to execute his responsibilities. O’Connor attributed Biden’s stiff gait to spinal arthritis and “peripheral neuropathy,” or some loss of sensation in the feet.

Biden’s doctors will probably do a neurological exam on Thursday, as is typical with people in his age group who are more vulnerable to falls, Borna Bonakdarpour, an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told Reuters.

They are also likely to check Biden’s eyes and hearing and “anything else he may complain about,” Dr Bonakdarpour said. Biden’s cognition seemed good during the recent State of the Union address, the doctor said. Biden told Judy Woodruff in a PBS interview last week that any Americans concerned about his age should “watch me” perform the duties of the presidency.

(Additional reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Heather Timmons, Robert Birsel)