M. J. Abenza-Abildúa, C. Pérez-López, E. Suárez-Gisbert, M. J. Sobrido-Gómez Neurosciences and History 2020;8(2):56-67
Type of article: REVIEW
M. J. Abenza-Abildúa1, C. Pérez-López2, E. Suárez-Gisbert3, M. J. Sobrido-Gómez4 1Neurology Department. Hospital Universitario Infanta Sofía, Madrid, Spain. 2Neurosurgery Department. Hospital Universitario La Paz, Madrid, Spain. 3Psychiatry Department. Hospital Universitario Infanta Sofía, Madrid, Spain. 4Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Santiago de Compostela (IDIS), Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Introduction. From his first days in public life and his political career, the life of the 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK), has generated great interest. His health is also a political subject as, until recently, it was not possible to analyse his medical history in detail. Various specialists, mainly endocrinologists and spinal surgeons, have published reviews on the subject. This article reviews the available medical records of JFK, as well as studies published over the last 50 years addressing his health, the most relevant aspects of his family history, and the published results of his autopsy.
Objectives. We present a timeline of the medical and surgical conditions documented by the physicians who treated JFK during his lifetime and discuss the subsequent reviews of his medical history published by contemporary specialists since the 1920s.
Development. We summarise JFK’s medical history from 1919 to his death in 1963, describing all the known medical and surgical conditions (scarlet fever, whooping cough, colitis, jaundice, duodenal ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, malaria, prostatitis and urethritis, Addison disease, lumbosacral instability, postoperative abscesses, chronic lumbar pain) and relevant findings from the autopsy performed after his assassination.
Conclusions. JFK’s health was a known cause of physical limitation during his political career and in his personal life. Despite these limitations, he reached the highest levels in his military and political career, travelled extensively, worked tirelessly, and led an active personal life. His personal and professional development represent the triumph of the patient over chronic disease.
Timeline, lumbar pain, failed back surgery syndrome, adrenal insufficiency, JFK, Kennedy
Neurosciences and History 2020;8(2):56-67
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