Four presidents died of illness while in office.
Four presidents died of illness while in office.

Is it anybody's business that Hillary Clinton has pneumonia or that Donald Trump has offered little in the way of medical records? 

    While intrusive, such questions are valid. If elected, Clinton, 68, the Democratic candidate, would be the second-oldest person to take office. Ronald Reagan holds the record as oldest president. He was 69 when inaugurated.
    Republican candidate Donald Trump, 70, would overtake Reagan's record if elected. This week, he released a report on a recent physical to television doctor Mehmet Oz.
    The president's health has become a matter of record. Out of eight presidents to die in office, four were assassinated. But four others died as a result of illness:

William Henry Harrison (Feb. 9, 1773-April 4, 1841): Harrison was the first president to die in office. And ever since, the story of how he stood outside on a cold March day and gave his inaugural address without hat, gloves or overcoat has been told as a cautionary tale to the nation's schoolchildren. His diagnosis was “bilious pleurisy,” according to The Complete Book of Presidents, by William A. DeGregorio and Sandra Lee Stuart, (Barricade Books; 2013). The ninth president, a respected military officer, is literally remembered for this one lapse in judgment -- and for dying a month after he took the oath of office.

Zachary Taylor (Nov. 24, 1784 –July 9, 1850): Another military man, the 12th president was the victim of bad sanitation, according to DeGregorio. Taylor had attended a July 4 celebration that involved sitting through orations. He then went for a walk. Returning to the White House, the hot and tired president devoured a bowl of cherries and a pitcher of ice milk. Stomach cramps followed, and he was diagnosed with “cholera morbus.” In fact, Taylor may have suffered from gastroenteritis or stomach flu, according to the National Constitution Center. Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestine usually caused by “viruses or bacteria or ... food poisoning toxins, which causes vomiting and diarrhea,” according to The Bantam Medical Dictionary.  

Warren G. Harding (Nov. 2, 1865-Aug. 2, 1923): The 29th president had undertaken a tour to meet voters when he became ill with pneumonia. He was taken to a hotel in San Francisco, and while resting, suffered a heart attack. (See an article on his death on the National Constitution Center website.) 

Franklin D. Roosevelt (Jan. 30, 1882 –April 12, 1945): The 32nd president was famously a survivor who had battled illness that left him a paraplegic. Elected to four terms, he served through the tumultuous years of the Great Depression and World War II. But in January 1945, Roosevelt took office knowing he was in no condition to do so.  In a memo dated July 10, 1944, Frank Lahey, a Boston physician, described Roosevelt as “if not in heart failure, at least on the verge of it.” The doctor reported that after reviewing Roosevelt’s X-rays and tests, he did not believe the president had “the physical capacity to complete a term.”  (See the memo on The History Channel’s website.)


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