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October 20th, 2008
02:07 PM ET

How important are candidate medical records?

By Miriam Falco
Managing Editor, CNN Medical News

Last night, the Obama-Biden campaign announced that reporters would be allowed Monday to review Sen. Joe Biden’s medical records. So beginning at 12:30 p.m. today, reporters have five hours to look at a 49-page summary of the Democratic vice-presidential candidate’s medical records.

Since Biden has had two aneurysms– found after his first bid for president 20 years ago - some might wonder how healthy this 65-year-old man really is.

The campaign didn’t give the news media much of a heads-up – less than 24 hours. Earlier this year, selected journalists, including our Dr. Sanjay Gupta, were given three hours to look at over 1,000 of pages of Sen. John McCain’s medical records, far more than most candidates running for this office. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Barack Obama, released only a one-page document by his physician, which pronounced Obama healthy to be president and noted that he used to smoke a lot. So far there hasn’t been any mention of McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, releasing her medical records.

How important is to you it that presidential and vice presidential candidates make their medical history public? Does it influence your vote?

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Don

    I don't think it's terribly important unless there's evidence of cancer or a serious heart condition. Cheney was a concern, but it seems he's lived through it.

    October 20, 2008 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. suzanne

    A health statement, a detailed statement is important, but not the records themselves. We do not need to invade the privacy of even a presidential candidate just to know if he or she is in good health.

    October 21, 2008 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Greg Lutes

    I am a combat wounded Viet Nam veteran who suffers from PTSD. I am on medication prescribed by the VA, go to group meetings, and have one on ones with my VA psychiatrist. On occasion I "flash' and do have anger issues among many other things.

    I have the utmost respect for Senator McCain but I wonder how he deals with his PTSD? He suffered a lot more than many of us. There is no way that he doesn't suffer from it and it is not a curable condition. This has not been discussed in the news media or if it has, I have missed it.

    October 21, 2008 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mary

    If we're inquiring into the health of Joe Biden and allowing reporters to look into His medical records, the reporters looked into the medical records of John McCain then in all fairness Obama should have to show all of his medical records to the press as well. What is he hiding? Oh and while he's at it, how about a legitimate birth certificate?

    October 23, 2008 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. ashley

    I definitely think the presidential candidates should allow their medical conditions to be disclosed, but not necessarily the entire medical record unless they choose. We don't need to know everything they have had. Also, just because McCain is a veteran does not mean he has or had PTSD. Next time you see Obama on TV notice the color of his lips and gums when he smiles. This was brought up in small group discussion at my school (I'm in medical school) that it appears he has some cyanosis-could he be hiding a lung or heart disease?

    October 24, 2008 at 20:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ann

    Mary, give it up about the birth certificate. Guess what? Even if Obama weren't born in the US (just as John McCain wasn't born in the US), he'd still be qualified under the US Constitution to be president. His mother was indisputedly a US citizen, and as the child of a US citizen Obama was born a "natural born" US citizen which is all that the Constitution requires.

    October 30, 2008 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Matt

    The difference between a potentially unhealthy McCain and a potentially unhealthy Biden is that McCain is at the top of the ticket. McCain's age alone puts him at much greater risk of dying while in office from any of the top killers: heart disease, stroke, or cancer. And then we would have a very different person in office. If Biden blows an aneurysm a week after the inauguration, Obama would find another VP he felt was qualified, but I don't think his views on policy would be at risk quite like they would if Palin were to take over.

    So to answer the question more directly, yes, health status matters in our president, but the health status of our VP should probably not carry the same weight.

    October 30, 2008 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.