World leaders who battled health challenges while in office
Globally , it sometimes happens that leaders contend with one illness or the other .
As President Muhammadu Buhari takes another trip to Britain for medicals , we look at leaders , past and present globally , who contend /contended with one illness or the other while in office …
Tony Blair ( heart condition )
Now 64 years old , Tony Blair became British Prime Minister when he was 44 , and he was in office until age 54 .
In 2004 , Blair complained of chest pains and irregular heartbeat . At the Hammersmith hospital in west London where he was rushed to for emergency treatment , he was diagnosed as suffering from supraventricular tachycardia — a type of heart rhythm disorder in which the heart beats faster than normal .
To douse tension , then , Blair informed the citizens , “It ’ s not particularly alarming but it’ s something that you should get fixed – it’ s a routine procedure .
“ I ’ ve had it for the last couple of months and it’ s not impeded me doing my work and feeling fine , but it is as well to get it done . ”
Gordon Brown ( Eye problems )
Now 66 , Gordon Brown was in office for three years , having assumed the British Prime ministership aged 56 .
In 2009 , on a television show, Brown revealed that he had difficulty with his eyesight . He said he lost the sight in one eye after a teenage rugby accident and had a retinal detachment in the other eye , a situation that gave him concerns that he might completely lose his sight someday.
He told his interviewer : “Although I have problems with my eyes and it has been very difficult over the years , I think people understand that you can do a job and you can work hard.
“ And I think it would be a terrible indictment of our political system if you thought that because someone had this medical issue, they couldn ’ t do the job .
“ I feel that I have done everything to show people that I can do the job even with the handicap that I ’ ve had as a result of a rugby injury . ”
READ : Unfounded speculations on Buhari ’ s health should stop – Tinubu
Ronald Reagan ( Alzheimer ’s )
Ronald Reagan , now late , served two terms as American president from 1981 to 1989 . He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’ s five years after leaving office in 1994 . However , researchers at the University of Arizona suspected that he was already living with the diseases as a president and long before his condition was diagnosed .
They had written of his ailment , “ President Reagan showed a significant reduction in the number of unique words over time and a significant increase in conversational fillers and non – specific nouns . ”
John F Kennedy ( Autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2 )
When JFK was elected US president in 1960 , he was 43 years old . Historians say that he suffered various health challenges that were controlled by doses of steroids and other drugs .
Among those problems was Addison ’ s disease or autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2 . Experts say this disease causes the adrenal glands to wither , leading to complications such as fatigue , dizziness, muscle weakness , weight loss, difficulty standing up , nausea , sweating , and changes in mood and personality.
The UK Guardian reports that Kennedy once collapsed during a congressional visit to Britain as a result of Addison ’ s disease .
“ His medical records , studied posthumously by navy doctor Lee R Mandel , revealed that Kennedy was taking 500mg of vitamin C twice daily ; 10 mg of hydrocortisone daily ; 2 . 5 mg of prednisone twice daily ; 10 mg of methyltestosterone daily ( to combat weight loss and gonadal atrophy associated with the steroids he was taking); 25 mg of liothyronine (a synthetic thyroid hormone) twice daily ; 0 . 1 mg fludrocortisone daily ; and diphenoxylate hydrochloride and atropine sulfate, two tablets as needed , ” Guardian wrote .
Franklin D Roosevelt ( Poliomyelitis, blood pressure , atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease )
According to Wiki , in 1921 , at the age of 38 , Roosevelt suffered a severe attack of polio , which resulted in the total paralysis of both legs.
In 1920 , he had run as vice- president to Democratic candidate James M Cox . His illness seemed to threaten his future political career , but it did not .
In 1928 , he was elected governor of New York and in 1932 defeated Herbert Hoover to become president , in which office he served until his death in 1945 – becoming thereby the last president to serve more than two four- year terms in office .
In 1944 , hospital tests revealed that the president , a lifelong chain smoker , had high blood pressure , atherosclerosis , coronary heart disease causing angina pectoris and congestive heart failure , ” UK Guardian wrote ; but his declining health was hidden from the public . He won a re -election in 1944 , but died the following year due to a massive cerebral haemorrhage .
François Mitterrand ( prostate cancer )
The French president died of prostate cancer in 1996 , a year after the end of his two – term lasting 14 years . He and his doctors reportedly concealed his condition from the French public .
The UK Guardian wrote that David Owen , in his book , In Sickness and in Power : Illness in Heads of Government During the Last 100 Years , reveals the lengths they went to conceal his condition .
According to Owen , “When Mitterrand had to be given regular intravenous oestrogen hormone therapy, the president ’ s personal physician hung the intravenous drip on a picture hook or a coat hanger so as not to have to hammer a nail into the wall of an embassy or another government ’ s guest house . ”
Harold Wilson (colon cancer , Alzheimer ’s )
Harold Wilson was British prime minister for two terms. During his second term between 1974 and 1976 , he suffered symptoms that were later diagnosed as colon cancer . He was also suspected to have suffered from Alzheimer’ s while in office .
He was suspected to have retired as a result of the cognitive impairment for which Alzheimer ’ s is known .
Winston Churchill (Severe depression , heart attack , pneumonia , stroke )
In his 1966 memoir, Charles Wilson , the personal physician to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, revealed that “Black Dog ” was the name Churchill gave to “ the prolonged fits of depression from which he suffered ” .
The claim has remained controversial , though Churchill acknowledged in his book , Painting as a Pastime, that he was prey to the “ worry and mental over – strain (experienced ) by persons who , over prolonged periods , have to bear exceptional responsibilities and discharge duties upon a very large scale . ”
He suffered a heart attack during a visit to the White House in 1941 and contracted pneumonia a few years later .
During his second term as prime minister from 1951 to 1955 , Churchill was , in the words of his biographer Roy Jenkins , “ gloriously unfit for office ”. Ageing and increasingly unwell , he often conducted business from his bedside. He had suffered a stroke while on holiday in 1949 and , while in office in 1953 , suffered another.
Despite being paralysed down one side and doctors fearing he might not survive the weekend, he conducted a cabinet meeting, allegedly without anyone noticing his struggles .
News of his stroke was kept from parliament and the public , who were told that he was suffering merely from exhaustion . He left office in 1955 . A year after his retirement , he suffered another stroke .
Theresa May (diabetes and barrenness )
The 60 – year – old British Prime Minister was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus of type 1 in November 2012 . She is treated with four insulin injections daily .
She also battles sterility, having been married in 1980 but she and her husband have no biological child — something she regrets , according to Wikipedia .
Not the type to give up , May had told an interviewer , “ I would like the message to get across that it doesn ’ t change what you can do .
“ The fact is that you can still do whatever you want to do . For example , on holiday , my husband and I do a lot of quite strenuous walking up mountains in Switzerland , and it doesn ’ t stop me doing it. I can still do things like that and can still do the job . ”
Sources : Wikipedia , WebMd , UK Guardian