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Trump monitored for heart risk while taking unproven drug, White House memo says

President Donald Trump was closely monitored in case he developed an irregular heart beat while he took a two-week course of the drug he’s touted as a potential cure for the coronavirus and completed the regimen without any side effects, White House physician Sean Conley wrote in a memo released Wednesday.

Despite past skepticism over vaccines and claims he never got a flu shot before coming to the White House, Trump also is current on routine vaccinations, including seasonal influenza, Conley wrote.

The memo concluded there was “no interval change” in Trump’s condition over the past year and that he continues to receive regular tests for the coronavirus, all of which have been negative. The memo summarized exams Trump had at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the White House between November and April.

At 6-foot-3 and 244 pounds, Trump was one pound heavier than during his last physical. Trump, the oldest elected president in U.S. history, for the second straight year is just above the CDC threshold for obesity, putting him at increased risk of severe illness from the coronavirus, as well as health problems including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Trump’s other vitals were unremarkable, and he "remains healthy," according to the memo. His resting heart rate was 63 beats a minute, with a cholesterol count and blood pressure within normal ranges.

The president in May stunned the public health community when he announced he was taking hydroxychloroquine, along with a daily dose of zinc and an initial dose of the antibiotic azithromycin, a combination that has been linked to increased incidences of cardiac arrest. Trump has frequently suggested the malaria medicine is an effective treatment and preventive measure for the coronavirus, despite data suggesting it has no proven benefits for Covid-19 patients and could instead have harmful side effects. Trump also took vitamin D as part of the regimen, Conley wrote.

The timing coincided with the first pair of coronavirus cases in the West Wing — on May 7, the president’s personal valet tested positive for coronavirus, and just days later Vice President Mike Pence’s top spokesperson tested positive, as well.

The drug was administered “in consultation with [Trump’s] appropriate care team members and close monitoring of the electrocardiogram” for irregularities, Conley wrote.

A new rigorous study released Wednesday found that hydroxychloroquine did not prevent infection from the virus. However, the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the first major controlled trial of the drug for Covid-19 patients, did not find serious heart problems from taking the medicine.

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