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President Roosevelt’s Secret Hypertensive Heart Disease 

President Roosevelt’s Secret Hypertensive Heart Disease
Chapter:
President Roosevelt’s Secret Hypertensive Heart Disease
Author(s):

W. Bruce Fye

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199982356.003.0007
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date: 27 July 2021

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s health was a factor in the 1944 election. Presidential press secretary Stephen Early and White House physician Ross McIntire worried that Thomas Dewey might win if voters learned that Roosevelt had severe hypertension and had an episode of congestive heart failure. Three weeks before the election, Mayo cardiologist Arlie Barnes visited the Bethesda Naval Medical Center where he learned that some physicians suspected that Roosevelt had a “serious heart ailment.” When Barnes returned to Rochester he mentioned this to a few friends. Word of this conversation reached Early, and FBI agents interrogated Barnes and other Mayo physicians two weeks before the election. During the campaign’s closing days, White House insiders orchestrated events designed to showcase a healthy commander in chief. Stifling rumors about Roosevelt’s health was part of their strategy to defeat Dewey. Less than three months into his fourth term, Roosevelt had a stroke and died.

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