The Clinton health update

The Clinton campaign released a letter from her personal physician addressing her physical condition following her collapse at the 9/11 Memorial ceremony in New York on Sunday. The letter disclosed that Secretary Clinton was diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia. A copy of the letter has been posted online here. Clinton returns to the campaign trail today. We asked the prominent internist who wrote us regarding Clinton’s diagnosis of pneumonia this past Sunday to comment on Dr. Bardack’s letter. He writes:

Yesterday Dr. Lisa Bardack, Hillary Clinton’s personal physician, released a letter designed to dispel worries about Hillary’s fitness as candidate for president. Unfortunately for those such as me who seek reassurance, the letter fails adequately to address valid concerns about Hillary’s health.

For example, the letter does not address Hillary’s history of falls, such as what was witnessed last Sunday. Bill Clinton recently described them as being “frequent” in occurrence (before changing his tune) and attributed them to her becoming “severely dehydrated.”

In addition to being a board-certified internist I am also board-certified in nephrology, the field of kidney disease. I am therefore expert on how the body handles fluids and electrolytes. As such, I find Bill’s explanation wholly unpersuasive. Severe dehydration does not occur easily, especially in people who live Hillary’s sedentary type of lifestyle. Perhaps President Clinton was trying to say that Hillary has a problem with fainting spells. But a number of possible serious illnesses involving the heart or nervous system that may also present in this manner were not addressed in Dr. Bardack’s letter.

Similarly, Dr. Bardack’s description of what occurred last Sunday is puzzling. Here is what she wrote: “On Sunday, September 11 at the 9/11 Memorial event, she became overheated and dehydrated and as a result felt dizzy. I examined her immediately upon her return home; she was re-hydrating and recovering nicely.”

From what I could tell using online historical weather data, the temperature at the time of the 9/11 memorial ceremony was in the upper 70s with humidity in the 60s. This is warm but not the type of climate that would cause someone to become rapidly dehydrated.

Moreover, the video taken of Hillary collapsing suggests more than this being just a “dizzy” spell. Finally, about 90 or so minutes after she collapsed Hillary appeared outside her daughter’s apartment appearing fine. In my experience the degree of “dehydration” that would cause someone to collapse the way she did cannot be reversed in 90 minutes. In fact, it would usually require placement of an intravenous catheter for infusion of fluids and close observation for at least several hours.

In summary, Dr. Bardack’s explanations fail to alleviate my concerns about Hillary’s health status.