After Hillary Clinton abruptly left a 9/11 memorial service in New York Sunday, her physician disclosed that Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday and is currently taking antibiotics.
Clinton’s staff initially said she was feeling “overheated.” A statement released by Clinton’s doctor on Sunday afternoon indicated that, upon examination, the cause of her faintness was dehydration.
Reporters weren’t alerted until after her departure, but video taken by a bystander shows what appears to be Clinton visibly weak and on the verge of fainting as she got into a van.
The incident is already amplifying calls for Clinton to release more detailed medical records.
“At present, we have no way of knowing whether either Mr. Trump or Secretary Clinton is in good health, because neither have released meaningful records, and to use this particular incident to suggest that one candidate is less healthy than the other may be effective politics, but as science, it is truly meaningless,” Dr. Jacob Appel, an assistant professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine who has also studied presidential medical history, wrote in an email to STAT. “Akin to predicting an influenza epidemic based [on] a candidate’s sneezing.”
Clinton, 68, has so far released only a physician’s letter with about the same amount of detail as letters issued by President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012. Clinton’s doctor concluded she was “in excellent physical condition.”
Clinton’s letter included more detail than the one released by Donald Trump’s doctor, which alleged he would be the healthiest person ever elected president. Trump is 70 years old.
“Both candidates have been economical with the truth of their health,” said Robert Robins, professor emeritus of political science at Tulane University, who has studied presidential health. “Past experience with A-list leaders shows that serious and continuing health difficulties, except when unavoidably public, come to light only after they have left office and especially after their death.”
A concussion that Clinton suffered in December 2012 has been the foundation for much of the speculation about her health. The cause of the concussion was a fainting episode, which was blamed on dehydration. During an evaluation after the concussion, a blood clot was found in her head.
She was hospitalized to treat the clot, and follow-up evaluations showed she had fully recovered and that she tested negative for clotting disorders, according to the doctor’s letter. However, as a precaution, she is taking a blood thinner.
“Overheating” most likely falls under the broader medical diagnosis of hyperthermia, or heat-related illness. Hyperthermia is especially common among older adults and in hot, crowded places.
“A doctor wouldn’t say that feeling overheated, a normal symptom of life from time to time, is ‘falling ill,'” CNN contributor and physician Dr. Ford Vox tweeted in response to the episode.
Upon leaving the memorial service Clinton went to daughter Chelsea’s nearby apartment, and the campaign said she was “feeling much better.” Associated Press photos later showed her walking out of the apartment smiling and waving to cameras, and the campaign said she then proceeded home to Chappaqua, N.Y.