Biden has annual physical at Walter Reed, president ‘remains fit’ for duty, doctor says

FILE - US President Joe Biden exits Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, following his routine annual physical, on Feb. 28, 2024. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden has been deemed "fit for duty" following his annual physical on Wednesday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to a health summary released by the White House on Wednesday. 

"President Biden is a healthy, active, robust, 81-year-old male who remains fit to successfully execute the duties of presidency," said Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor. 

The president "feels well and this year's physical identifies no new concerns," according to the White House. 

Biden is the oldest president in U.S. history. After his last physical, performed in February 2023, doctors declared Biden "healthy, vigorous" and "fit" to handle his White House duties. But voters are approaching this year’s election with misgivings about Biden’s age. 

Biden would be 86 by the end of a second term, should he win one. 

After he returned to the White House, Biden attended an event on combating crime and suggested that when it came to his health, "there is nothing different than last year." 

He also joked about his age, gesturing toward the assembled press corps and telling police leaders at the gathering, "They think I look too young." 

Former President Donald Trump, 77, is the favorite to lock up the Republican nomination later this month, which would bring him closer to a November rematch against Biden. Trump was 70 when he took office in 2017, which made him the oldest American president to be inaugurated, until Biden broke his record by being inaugurated at 78 in 2021.

Biden’s health during presidency

A recent special counsel’s report on the investigation into Biden's handling of classified documents repeatedly derided Biden's memory, calling it "hazy," "fuzzy," "faulty," "poor" and having "significant limitations." It also noted that Biden could not recall defining milestones in his own life such as when his son Beau died or when he served as vice president. 

Biden's last physical showed that the president had a lesion removed from his chest over the previous year, but the results then otherwise largely matched the findings after Biden's previous exam in November 2021. That report said his occasional coughing was due to acid reflux, while his stiffened gait was the result of spinal arthritis, a previously broken foot and neuropathy in his feet. 

The White House also announced last summer that Biden had begun using a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine at night to help with sleep apnea — which could be reflected in the final report released later Wednesday. 

The president had a colonoscopy in 2021, in which a 3 millimeter "benign-appearing polyp" was identified and removed. 

Many Americans, including Democrats, have expressed reservations about Biden seeking a second term during this fall's election. Only 37% of Democrats say Biden should pursue reelection, down from 52% before the 2022 midterm elections, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. 

Biden counters that his age brings wisdom, and he has begun to criticize Trump for the former president’s recent public gaffes. Biden joked that his age was classified information and suggested during a taping in New York on Monday of "Late Night With Seth Meyers ″ that Trump mistakenly called his wife Melania, "Mercedes" during a weekend speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference -- though the Trump campaign says he was correctly referring to political commentator Mercedes Schlapp. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.