Mitt Romney found to be in good physical health

Mitt Romney’s physician described the Republican presidential nominee as an “energetic, strong, physically fit” man who looks younger than his age in a letter released Friday that offered the first glimpse into the state of the candidate’s health.

Dr. Randall D. Gaz, who practices at Massachusetts General Hospital and has been Romney’s personal physician since 1989, said the former Massachusetts governor has “no physical impairments that should interfere with his rigorous and demanding political career” or his hopes of becoming the next president.

“He has shown the ability to be engaged in multiple, varied, simultaneous activities requiring complex mental, social, emotional, and leadership skills,” Gaz wrote in the letter released on Romney’s campaign website. “He is a vigorous man who takes excellent care of his personal physical health. He has reserves of strength, energy, and stamina that provide him with the ability to meet unexpected demands.”

The letter outlining Romney’s condition was posted Friday along with one from the physician of Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan — who was described as being in excellent physical health — at the same time that the campaign released Romney’s long-awaited 2011 tax returns.

Gaz noted that the candidate’s family has a history of cardiac arrhythmias, heart attack and prostate cancer. He recommended that Romney continue to have regular examinations to guard against those conditions, including lipid blood testing and cardiac evaluation to monitor his heart rhythm. During an examination in early August, Gaz said, his cardiac exam showed a regular slow rhythm.


The doctor, who is part of Massachusetts General’s general and gastrointestinal surgery department, listed several medical conditions for Romney: hyperlipidemia with stable, mild triglyceride elevation at 179 (a slightly high amount of fat in the blood); minimally symptomatic benign prostatic hypertrophy (a mild enlargement of the prostate); and sinus bradycardia (a lower-than-average base line heart rate), but said Romney’s condition was without palpitations, chest pain or shortness of breath.

The candidate, who celebrated his 65th birthday in March with his wife’s “meatloaf cakes,” takes two medications daily: a low-dose aspirin and 10 milligrams of Lipitor, a drug intended to lower cholesterol. His high-fiber diet includes an abundance of fruits and vegetables and he avoids “concentrated sweets,” Gaz said (without mentioning Romney’s favorite indulgences of peanut butter and honey sandwiches and peanut M&Ms;). Romney does not drink or smoke in adherence to his Mormon faith.

The August exam measured Romney’s resting heart rate at 40, rising to 107 with stress, and his blood pressure was 130/80, according to the letter. Gaz reported that Romney has a “slow, resting, regular heart rate in the 40s” that is “most likely related to his past intensive exercise with regular running.”

The candidate makes time for early-morning cross-training workouts at the gym on the campaign trail, and used to run three miles daily before he was forced to cut back because of a condition known as Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the thick tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes that is common in runners.

Romney and his wife, Ann, enjoy athletic pursuits such as swimming and biking when staying at their vacation home on the shore of New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. Romney has put younger aides to shame during water skiing expeditions on the lake.

He also competes with his five sons each year in what the family calls the “Romney Olympics,” which includes contests in beach volleyball, log-sawing and hanging from a bar over the lake until their arms give out. Romney also occasionally joins Ann, an accomplished equestrian, for trail rides that have helped her cope with her multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

Ryan, 42, was a personal trainer before he entered politics and is a strict adherent of the P90X workout, a blend of muscle development and cross-training. Ryan has said he maintains body fat of 6% to 8% and leads morning workouts on Capitol Hill.

In a separate letter released Friday, Ryan’s doctor said that the Wisconsin congressman follows a “heart-healthy diet,” a “vigorous aerobic and strength building” exercise regimen and drinks alcohol infrequently. Ryan’s physician said the vice presidential nominee’s blood pressure was “well controlled” at 121/62 and that his heart rate was measured at 59 beats per minute.

Ryan occasionally uses an inhaler, and his father’s side of the family has a history of early onset coronary artery disease. Ryan has a herniated disc in his lower back and knee trouble, but overall, the physician said, the congressman is in “excellent” health.