Printer Friendly

Was President Taft cognitively impaired?

President William Howard Taft had severe sleep apnea during his presidency from 1909 to 1913, which could explain his tendency to nod off at work or even while playing cards, medical and historical reports indicate.

The condition obstructs air intake, interrupting sleep so often that a person "gets no refreshing sleep" and is chronically drowsy during the daytime, says John G. Sotos, a cardiologist at Apneos Corp. in Belmont, Calif.

Sotos, after reviewing scores of historical documents, figures that excess weight gain contributed to Taft's sleep apnea. The researcher's report appears in the September Chest.

Obesity is a risk factor for sleep apnea, probably because fat in the neck obstructs the throat's air passage, Sotos says. Taft weighed more than 300 pounds throughout his presidency and had a large neck. He also snored when he slept, another sign of sleep apnea.

While sleep apnea wasn't recognized as a medical condition a century ago, today it's associated with difficulties in memory, attention, and learning. Therefore, sleep apnea might explain why Taft--who weighed less and had an exemplary record in public service before and after his 4 years in the White House--is seen by many historians as a blunderer while president, Sotos says.

After peaking at 340 pounds as president, Taft later dropped to around 265 pounds and stayed there. He served as the chief justice of the Supreme Court for 9 years before his death in 1930.--N.S.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Biomedicine
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 11, 2003
Words:238
Previous Article:Faint smells of schizophrenia.
Next Article:Cassini confirms Einstein's theory.


Related Articles
Multi-faceted monitoring.
Problem behavior or pain?
Texas developing sexuality guidelines.
Feeding tube use in dementia depends on state DNR rates. (NH News Notes).
The safety program sunset for sundowning: this facility's staff came up with plans to attack the most hazardous part of many residents' day. (2002...
How communications technology reduces risk. (Communications Update: I).
Pain assessment/management for cognitively impaired.
Study finds dementia care lacking in SNFs and ALFs.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters