Disclosure of a candidate's medical history has become de rigueur in presidential campaigns, a mundane ritual since Thomas Eagleton's history of psychiatric treatment sank his vice presidential bid in 1972. The 2016 presidential election redramatized the issue of health. Hillary Clinton's physician had provided a written health assessment on July 28, 2015. That two-page letter discussed her well-publicized concussion incurred while secretary of state, seasonal allergies, a list of medications, and the lab results from a March 2015 checkup. The letter attested that she was “a healthy female” with “a healthy lifestyle,” and that a “full medical evaluation” shows her “in excellent physical condition and fit to serve as President of the United States.” Her sudden illness in September 2016 raised questions about the health of both major parties’ candidates, as Donald Trump remained evasive about his own health status.
Prior to that, the sole official assessment of Donald Trump's health had consisted of a fourteen-line letter dated December 4, 2015, referencing “a recent [undated] complete medical examination that showed only positive results.” The “laboratory test results [quantifying only blood pressure] were astonishingly excellent.” Trump was taking a low-dose aspirin and an unspecified dosage of an unspecified statin daily. The letter concluded: “If selected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever selected to the presidency.” This onslaught of vague superlatives raised suspicions, which increased when the physician admitted to writing the letter in a few minutes without proofreading it.
On September 11, 2016, Hillary Clinton attended a ceremony in New York commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She abruptly departed during the ceremony, staggering and needing physical assistance to return to her vehicle. The extensively aired video footage ignited speculations about the candidate's health. After initially claiming she was simply faint from hyperthermia, her campaign eventually disclosed that she had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days before the event—a fact unknown by many of her own staff. Her physician prescribed complete rest (a veritable “rest cure”), and Clinton vanished entirely from the campaign trail for three days.