President Trump’s physician, Navy Rear Admiral Dr. Ronny Jackson, told White House reporters that the president scored 30 out of 30 possible points on a cognitive test, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment.
That’s a test of mental function that can be useful in catching what doctors call mild cognitive impairment, a potential precursor to dementia. Any score of 26 or above on the 10-minute, 30-point exam is considered normal. The screening test–which, Jackson noted, is administered to patients at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center–asks patients to do tasks like recall lists of words and numbers, draw simple figures and a clock set to a given time, and identify animals from images.
In an initial study, people with mild cognitive impairment had an average score of 22.1 and people with Alzheimer’s disease scored an average of 16.2. The test, created in 1996 by neurologist Ziad Nasreddine in Montreal, isn’t a psychiatric exam, Jackson acknowledged, and it isn’t intended to screen for mental health issues beyond cognitive troubles.
Jackson said multiple times during the nearly hour-long meeting with reporters that he had had no intention of administering the test, but that Trump requested the exam. The president didn’t discuss his reasoning, Jackson said, but questions about his mental fitness for office have dogged Trump in recent weeks. (Jackson also said that Trump insisted that the doctor take as many reporters’ questions as he could.)
“I had absolutely no concerns about his cognitive ability or his neurological functions,” said Jackson, who regularly interacts with the president. “There’s no indication that he has any cognitive issues… [he’s] very sharp, very articulate when he speaks to me. I’ve never known him to repeat himself around me… He speaks his mind… [He’s] very sharp, very intact…. He’s fit for duty.”
An incident last month when Trump appeared to slur his speech may have been due to medication: the decongestant Sudafed, taken on Jackson’s advice, may have “dried up his secretions,” the doctor said in response to one reporter’s question.
The president is otherwise healthy–except that, at 239 pounds and 6-feet, 3-inches-tall, he is one pound away from being categorized as obese. This follows reports that Trump often enjoys heavy meals, such as cheeseburgers and steak, though he’s never used alcohol or tobacco. The president intends to take diet and exercise steps to lose perhaps 10 to 15 pounds, and is also planning to take a higher dose of Crestor, a cholesterol medication, Jackson said.
Jackson, who has served at the White House since 2006, refused to comment on an assertion made by Trump’s personal doctor, who had previously stated that Trump “unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”