Concerns about Hillary Clinton’s health and past concussion took on new currency when she left the memorial for the 15th anniversary of 9/11 early because she was faint.
CNN previously dubbed those who’ve raised alarms about Hillary’s health “healthers,” a play on the “birthers” who raised questions about President Barack Obama’s citizenship without ever providing concrete evidence he was not born in America.
However, even before the 9/11 incident, “Hillary’s health” was a major narrative on the right.
The claims have run the gamut, from a video of Hillary jerking her head to a photograph indicating she slipped going up stairs. Some conservative sites have presented lists of Hillary’s supposed strange behavior and health concerns, including an obvious hoarse voice and coughing fits on the campaign trail. Some accounts derive from Breitbart, the conservative site whose chairman Donald Trump just hired as his campaign CEO.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani – a Trump supporter – also put the “Hillary’s health” rumors into overdrive when he said Hillary’s mental and physical health was crumbling; NBC said he offered no evidence beyond “debunked” internet theories. On Fox News, Giuliani said Clinton looked “sick” and “tired.”
Donald Trump himself has insinuated that Hillary’s health is failing:
For her part, Hillary Clinton went on the Jimmy Kimmel show on August 22 and said the concerns make “no sense,” laughing them off and even opening a pickle jar to demonstrate her stamina. “Back in October, the National Enquirer said I’d be dead in six months. So with every breath I take I feel like it’s a new lease on life,” she said, according to NBC. “I do feel sometimes like this campaign has entered into an alternative universe.”
Of course, the health of any presidential candidate is fair game for questioning – Trump and Clinton both. Clinton did have documented and highly publicized health problems – including hospitalization for a blood clot and a concussion – in 2012; however, her doctor says she is healthy now and has no residual problems from that incident.
What are the facts about Hillary Clinton’s health sorted out from innuendo?
Here’s what you need to know:
Clinton Left the 9/11 Ceremony Early After She Almost Fainted, Reports Say
People Magazine says that Hillary almost fainted at the ceremony so she went to her daughter Chelsea’s apartment to recuperate. A video of her leaving the ceremony shows her seeming to be held up as she wobbled on her knees. Watch:
Fox News says Clinton suffered a medical episode. An hour later, her spokesman said, “During the ceremony, she felt overheated so departed to go to her daughter’s apartment, and is feeling much better,” according to Fox News.
On September 14, Clinton’s doctor, Lisa Bardack, released a new letter to the media that said “She is recovering well with antibiotics and rest. She continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States.”
Clinton Told the FBI She Couldn’t Remember Some Briefings as Secretary of State
On September 2, the FBI released a summary of its interview with Clinton into her emails. In the interview, Clinton told the FBI “she did not recall all the briefings she received on handling sensitive information as she made the transition from her post as U.S. secretary of state, due to a concussion suffered in 2012,” Reuters said.
The report says: “Clinton stated she received no instructions or direction regarding the preservation or production of records from State during the transition out of her role as Secretary of State in early 2013. However, in December of 2012, Clinton suffered a concussion and then around the New Year had a blood clot. Based on her doctor’s advice, she could only work at State for a few hours a day and could not recall every briefing she received.”
Clinton Would be an Older President but Trump Would Too & Neither Candidate Has Been Very Forthcoming Recently About Their Health, Reports Say
The New York Times says this election features the two oldest candidates to ever compete in a presidential election. However, Donald Trump is older than Hillary Clinton. He’s 70; she’s 68. (Ronald Reagan, nominated at age 69, was previously the oldest nominee).
The New York Times wrote that both candidates have declined to make their doctors available recently for media interviews or to reveal recent health details about themselves.
Both candidates released statements about their health in 2015, said The Times, adding that Trump’s doctor at that time proclaimed his health “extraordinary” although key details were not provided. Clinton’s doctor, Lisa Bardack, did proclaim her in excellent health and fit to be president in August 2016, said the Times, as she had in 2015, but the recent statement did not involve release of medical specifics.
Since 2015, though, the candidates have released almost no information about their health.
Hillary’s Doctor Says Medical Records Circulating on Conservative Websites Were Faked & Clinton’s Health Is Excellent but She Had Serious Past Medical Issues
According to Fact Check.org, the name of Clinton’s long-time doctor, Bardack, director of internal medicine for Mount Sinai Health System at CareMount Medical, appears on purported medical documents, which are dated from 2014 and “appear to have originated from a since-deleted Twitter account.” These documents raise concerns about Clinton’s health.
However, the site says the title for Bardack is wrong on the documents, and Bardack herself has declared them to be false. Factcheck.org says the same Twitter user also posted “a magnetic resonance angiogram of Clinton’s brain showing a significant ‘abnormality’ in the brain tissue” but that image was also faked.
Clinton’s doctor released a real letter in 2015 that said Clinton was “healthy” but described some serious past health issues.
In the letter, Bardack said that Clinton was fit to serve as president and healthy. Clinton’s campaign released this letter, which is real.
In the 2015 letter, Bardack described Clinton as “healthy” with current medical conditions that include “hypothyroidism and seasonal pollen allergies.” The letter said that Clinton’s “past medical history is notable for a deep vein thrombosis in 1998 and in 2009, an elbow fracture in 2009 and a concussion in 2012.”
The Washington Post says hypothyroidism “hinders the thyroid’s production of a hormone that regulates metabolism and can cause fatigue.” Read more about the condition from the American Thyroid Association.
Clinton fainted and sustained a concussion in 2012 while traveling after she suffered from a stomach virus that made her dehydrated, the letter says. “During follow up evaluations, Mrs. Clinton was found to have a transverse sinus venous thrombosis and began anticoagulation therapy to dissolve the clot,” stated the Bardack letter.
Clinton famously wore glasses to deal with double vision for a time because of the concussion, but the double vision resolved in two months and, in 2013, testing revealed “complete resolution of the effects of the concussion as well as total dissolution of the thrombosis,” the letter said. She also tested “negative for all clotting disorders.”
Clinton was continued on a daily anti-coagulation medicine as a precaution.
Clinton “participates in a healthy lifestyle and has had a full medical evaluation, which reveals no evidence of additional medical issues or cardiovascular disease,” concluded the letter. “Her cancer screening evaluations are all negative. She is in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as the President of the United States.”
The New York Times noted that Bill Clinton once said Hillary took six months “of very serious work” to recover from the concussion.
Her current medications were listed as Armour Thyroid, antihistamines, Vitamin B12 and Coumadin. She was advised in 1998 to take Lovenox, a short-acting blood thinner, when she took extended flights. That was discontinued in favor of Coumadin, the letter said.
Clinton Exercises Regularly & Eats a Healthy Diet, Her Doctor Says, but She’s Had Coughing Fits on the Campaign Trail
The 2015 letter from Clinton’s doctor says she “eats a diet rich in lean protein, vegetables and fruits. She exercises regularly, including yoga, swimming, walking and weight training.”
Breitbart noted that a 2009 Hillary email to her aide Huma Abedin said “I still don’t feel great,” which her spokesman said was just mild allergies.
Coughing and hoarseness on the campaign trail has attracted attention, though:
The Washington Post said the coughing was probably just caused by talking a lot on the campaign trail.
Clinton’s parents lived into their 80s and 90s.
The doctor’s letter says that Clinton’s father lived into his 80s, dying of a stroke, and her mother, Dorothy Rodham, lived into her 90s, dying from congestive heart failure.
One of Clinton’s brothers has premature heart disease. “Due to her family history, she underwent a full cardiac evaluation, which was negative,” said the letter.
A March 21, 2015 examination showed blood pressure 100/65, heart rate 72, respiratory rate 1. Her cholesterol was 195, and her EKG was normal.
On September 15, Donald Trump released additional details of his health.
Clinton Was Hospitalized for the Blood Clot in the Head in 2012
CNN and many other news reports discussed Clinton’s hospitalization at the time. A 2013 article by CNN says Clinton “was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday due to the clot that was discovered during a follow-up exam related to a concussion she suffered this month.”
CNN quoted Clinton’s doctors as saying, “The clot was located in the vein between the brain and and the skull behind Clinton’s right ear and did not result in any stroke or neurological damage.”
Karl Rove claimed Clinton had suffered brain damage, but there was no evidence of that and he walked back the comments, said CNN. The New York Post said Clinton “fell in her Washington, DC, home in December 2012 and sustained a concussion. Her doctors said a blood clot had formed behind her right ear in the space between her brain and skull.”
An email turned up by WikiLeaks shows that Hillary staffers reached out to the NFL after Hillary’s “cracked head”:
Politifact debunked Rove’s claim that the glasses Clinton wore to deal with the double vision indicated brain damage, saying they are not only used for people with brain damage.
Clinton Health Conspiracists Say She Had a Seizure at a Muffin Shop & Had to be Helped up Stairs
Claims spread that Clinton had suffered a seizure on the campaign trail after Clinton was seen on video making jerking motions with her head in a muffin shop in Washington D.C. in June. Watch the video above.
However, the journalist who took the video later wrote an article saying that Clinton was not having a seizure.
Lisa Lerer, the AP reporter, wrote, “Perhaps eager to avoid answering or maybe just taken aback by our volume, Clinton responded with an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously for a few seconds. Video of the moment shows me holding out my recorder in front of her, laughing and stepping back in surprise. After the exchange, she took a few more photos, exited the shop and greeted supporters waiting outside.”
However, she concluded: “Where I saw evasiveness, they see seizures” and then cited Bardack’s 2015 letter.
In another incident, a photo (below) appeared to show Clinton being helped up the stairs by aides. This also has provided fodder for Clinton opponents who are raising health concerns.
The photographer who captioned the photo for Getty images wrote, “Democratic Presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slips as she walks up the stairs into the non-profit SC Strong, a 2 year residential facility that helps former felons, substance abusers, and homeless move into self-sufficiency February 24, 2016 in North Charleston.”
Other photos in the same series show Hillary appearing fine speaking at the event (see above for an example).
Conspiracy theorists have also claimed that a Secret Service agent who attends to Hillary was spotted carrying a syringe.
However, the Secret Service says it was a flashlight, according to CNN.