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In Alzheimer’s breakthrough, researchers identify ‘protective gene’ that delays disease in high-risk family

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In Alzheimer’s breakthrough, researchers identify ‘protective gene’ that delays disease in high-risk family

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A significant Alzheimer’s study is shedding new light on a protective gene that appears to delay the disease in those destined to develop it.

Researchers from two Mass General Brigham hospitals — Mass Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital — have been studying a large extended family in Colombia with multiple members who have the Paisa mutation, which predicts an extremely high genetic risk of developing early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

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Most people with the Paisa variant develop mild cognitive impairment in their 40s, develop dementia in their 50s and die from complications of dementia in their 60s, according to a press release.

ALZHEIMER’S BLOOD TEST ACHIEVES FASTER DIAGNOSES, HIGH ACCURACY AT MAYO CLINIC

Among more than 1,000 high-risk family members, 27 of them who have one copy of a rare gene variant — the APOE3 gene, known as Christchurch — reported a delayed onset of symptoms.

A significant Alzheimer’s study sheds new light on a protective gene that appears to delay the disease in those destined to develop it. (iStock)

On average, they developed signs of Alzheimer’s five years later than those who did not have the variant, the researchers found.

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By comparison, the drugs currently available for Alzheimer’s slow the disease’s progression by only around six months.

The study findings, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, could have important implications for drug development.

‘REVERSING’ ALZHEIMER’S: HERE ARE EXERCISES TO MAKE THE BRAIN MORE RESILIENT

This is a follow-up to a 2019 study in which a woman from the same family who had two copies of the protective APOE3 Christchurch variant did not experience any disease symptoms until her 70s — decades later than the average age of onset, 44.

Joseph F. Arboleda-Velasquez, M.D., PhD, an associate scientist at Mass Eye and Ear who worked on the study, is originally from Colombia, where he spent years studying that woman’s case as part of his medical training.

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Brain scans

Imaging scans showed reduced signs of tau and amyloid plaques, the proteins that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. (iStock)

“It really took the world by storm, the Colombian woman who beat Alzheimer’s — it was an amazing discovery,” he told Fox News Digital.

“But also, we had to be very careful. Was it really true? Could it be reproduced? It would be amazing if we could develop treatments that replicate the effect of the Christchurch variant, but we didn’t have enough evidence.”

EXPERIMENTAL ALZHEIMER’S DRUG GETS FDA ADVISORY PANEL’S THUMBS-UP: ‘PROGRESS IS HAPPENING’

“So, back then, we started this very extensive project of trying to find more individuals who also had Christchurch to see if they were also protected.”

In this latest study, researchers analyzed 1,077 descendants of the Colombian family, narrowing the focus to the 27 people who carried both the Paisa mutation and one copy of the protective Christchurch variant.

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“This could really transform lives — not just of the individual, but at the population level.”

On average, these 27 family members began showing signs of cognitive impairment at age 52 — compared to age 47 for those without the Christchurch variant.

For two of the individuals, imaging scans showed reduced signs of tau and amyloid plaques, the proteins that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, the press release stated.

While the original woman might have been dismissed as a “one-time wonder,” said Arboleda-Velasquez, this new study provides more evidence that could help support building a drug development program.

Evidence of Alzheimer’s disease

A doctor points out evidence of Alzheimer’s disease on PET scans at the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Brigham And Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.  (REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo)

“Now, instead of one person, we have 27 more men and women — some who work, some who are retired, some in rural areas, some in the city — who all have the Christchurch variant and are all protected,” he said.

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“And now we can move forward with trying to develop therapies that do exactly the same thing.”

He added, “This could really transform lives — not just of the individual, but at the population level.”

                                    

The study did have some limitations, the researchers acknowledged.

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It analyzed a relatively small number of people carrying both the Paisa and Christchurch variants, all belonging to a single (albeit large) family. 

Mass General Hospital

Researchers from two Mass General Brigham hospitals — Mass Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital — led the new study. (iStock)

Additional studies including larger, more diverse groups are needed to confirm the variant’s protective effect and determine the targets of potential treatments, researchers said.

Some experimental therapies are already being developed, Arboleda-Velasquez noted.

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“A lot of people were very intrigued by the initial Christchurch finding [in 2019], and now this is different,” he said. 

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“This is a call to action — a call to make drugs that can leverage this discovery.”

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Dengue surges in UAE after record-breaking rainfall leaves ideal conditions for mosquitoes

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Dengue surges in UAE after record-breaking rainfall leaves ideal conditions for mosquitoes
  • Dengue has spiked worldwide. The World Health Organization declared it an emergency in December as cases have globally increased tenfold over the last generation.
  • The United Arab Emirates have issued many warnings about dengue. Mosquitoes spread dengue and have flourished in the UAE after it experienced record-setting rainfall.
  • While the UAE did not answer questions regarding the number of cases, activists say that laborers are being hit the hardest by the virus.

Since the United Arab Emirates witnessed its heaviest recorded rainfall ever three months ago, the desert nation has issued a multitude of warnings about dengue which, activists say, has surged and struck hardest among the vast populations of laborers.

The tropical disease, spread by mosquitoes, has witnessed a worldwide spike. The World Health Organization declared it an emergency in December as cases have globally increased tenfold over the last generation.

Many people infected by the virus are asymptomatic, but some experience headaches, fever and flu-like symptoms. Severe cases can lead to serious bleeding, shock and death.

LOCAL DENGUE FEVER CASES CONFIRMED IN FLORIDA KEYS, SPREAD BY MOSQUITO BITES

In the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, the disease has usually spread due to travel on long-haul carriers into the country. However, on April 25, the Department of Health alerted that locally transmitted cases without travel history have been documented since 2023 “as a result of climate change and an environment conducive to mosquito breeding.”

Changes in weather patterns turn countries previously inhospitable to Dengue-carrying mosquitoes into possible habitats.

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The April deluges, which flooded portions of major highways and Dubai’s international airport, only amplified the risk in the Gulf country. While major thoroughfares quickly saw vacuum pumps arrive, others remained saddled for weeks with stagnant pools of water, where virus-carrying mosquitoes lay their eggs and spread the disease.

An abandoned vehicle stands in floodwater covering a major road in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on April 18, 2024, after heavy thunderstorms. (AP Photo/Christopher Pike, File)

No official figures have been shared in the Emirates where broad laws severely restrict freedom of speech and almost all major local media are either state-owned or state-affiliated outlets. Queries sent to various governmental organizations about the exact number of confirmed dengue cases went unanswered.

The WHO also declined to discuss the situation in the UAE when reached by The Associated Press. However, the U.N. health agency noted in its May 30 report that there have been continued dengue outbreaks in Mideast “countries with stronger health-care systems that have been affected by unusual rains due to climate change.” It also said: “Timely data sharing also remains a challenge for other countries in the region for reasons such as the potential impact in the tourism, economy and other sectors.”

Meanwhile, public awareness campaigns across the sheikdom on the importance of cleaning stagnant water and warnings about dengue, also known as breakbone fever, have been widely aired on state media.

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Still, activists stressed that communities of laborers are bearing the brunt of the disease.

The slow cleanup of flooded areas in industrial sites has worsened the spread of the disease among laborers, some of whom have left their home countries already affected by climate change for a chance to earn money in the UAE, according to a report issued by FairSquare, a London-based group focused on labor rights in the Gulf Arab states.

The July 4 report detailed a surge in dengue cases among migrant worker communities across the Emirates, citing three healthcare workers, a government official, and migrant workers. The group attributed the rise in cases to a lagging government response to the spread of the viral infection in areas where migrant laborers live and work.

James Lynch, a FairSquare co-director once banned from entering the UAE while at Amnesty International, told the AP that “the important thing here is the disproportionate impact” of how the virus seems to mainly spread among laborers. “What you would want to see is an even-handed approach to dealing with clean up and it doesn’t seem to be the case here.”

No specific figures were shared in the report which quoted a nurse, who works at a private clinic in the city of Sharjah, as saying they receive over 30 cases every four or five days, describing the rise in cases as “alarming.”

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The UAE’s overall population of more than 9.2 million is only 10% Emirati, with millions of low-paid workers from Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

“I call it a double whammy of climate change on this very vulnerable population,” said Barrak Alahmad, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “I see that these migrant workers are on the front line facing the effects of climate change and health.”

The effect of the virus also resonated in Iran.

The Islamic Republic relies on Dubai as a major transit point to the rest of the world due to the international sanctions it faces over its nuclear program and tensions with the West.

On July 9, Shahnam Arshi, an Iranian health ministry official, said of 149 people infected with dengue, 130 had been infected in the UAE while Hossein Farshidi, deputy health minister, said the first known infected person entered Iran on May 15, after the flooding in the Emirates.

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Farshidi, in his latest remarks on July 23, said the number of infected people in the country, rose to 152, without giving further details.

This year, Iran also reported its first locally transmitted cases of dengue, saying the number rose to 12 in July, all of them located in the Bandar Lengeh port, south of Iran.

Earlier this year, Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro declared a public health emergency because of mosquito-borne dengue fever, while in July, U.S. officials warned doctors to stay on alert as the tropical disease broke international records.

“Each year, we are going to see new places and different local governments struggling with either dengue or other issues from climate change,” said Alahmad, the research fellow. “It is an ever-expanding issue. I don’t know if we have an easy fix to this.”

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Sleep and travel don’t always mix: Here are 7 tips to help you rest on the road

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Sleep and travel don’t always mix: Here are 7 tips to help you rest on the road

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More than half of U.S. adults plan to take a summer vacation this year, surveys have found — but for many, the time off may not be as restful as they’d hoped.

Whether traveling for pleasure or business, it’s common for people to experience sleep struggles away from home, experts say. Yet there are some ways to improve your rest while on the road.

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Why does travel interfere with sleep?

For most people, struggles with sleep on the first night of vacation are part of a natural survival mechanism, expert say.

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“Our brains enter ‘protector mode,’ especially when we’re traveling with family,” said Martin Seeley, CEO and sleep expert at Mattress Next Day in the U.K., in an email to Fox News Digital.

“In an unfamiliar place, our brains become instinctively more alert, increasing adrenaline to keep us awake and ready to defend ourselves or our loved ones.”

Jet lag, trip logistics and changing schedules can interfere with sleep, experts agreed. (iStock)

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Dr. Chelsie Rohrscheib, a neuroscientist and sleep specialist at Wesper in New York, agreed that sleeping in a foreign environment places the brain on high alert, and often results in light sleep and poor sleep quality for the first couple of days.

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An unfamiliar environment can also throw off a person’s sleep cycle, she told Fox News Digital, as the bed and sleeping area may be much different than at home, which usually requires an adjustment period. 

“You have almost no control over the type of mattress, pillow and bedding you’ll have while traveling, and you may find it uncomfortable,” Rohrscheib said.

Sleep triple split

Experts shared seven tips to help improve sleep while traveling. (iStock)

If traveling to a different time zone, that can disrupt the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s 24-hour biological clock. 

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“You may find it very difficult to adjust to your new sleep and wake time, which causes poor sleep for up to a week,” the doctor noted.

STRUGGLING TO FALL ASLEEP? TRY THIS SIMPLE TRICK TO DRIFT OFF QUICKLY

All of these factors can add up to daytime sleepiness, cognitive impairment, low energy and moodiness, the expert warned.

Changes to diet and exercise routines, modified schedules, and stress and anxiety about trip logistics can also affect the ability to sleep, according to experts with the Sleep Foundation.

7 tips to get better sleep while traveling

“Luckily, there are ways to ‘trick’ your brain into reducing levels of adrenaline and feeling more relaxed,” Seeley said.

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1. Bring familiar items from home

Seeley recommends taking something from your bedroom at home that your brain will associate with sleeping in a safe environment.

GOING TO BED AFTER THIS TIME COULD LEAD TO POORER MENTAL HEALTH, A STANFORD STUDY FINDS

“The pillowcase from your bed won’t take up any room in your suitcase, and it will smell like your laundry detergent — this makes it ideal for relaxing your brain and body,” he suggested.

Smells are very powerful when it comes to triggering memories, the expert noted.

“So if you’re surrounded by the same smells of your bed at home, your brain will more than likely start to feel more safe and relaxed.”

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2. Mimic your home environment

Seeley recommends setting up your sleeping area to resemble your home environment as closely as possible. 

Girl sleeping

One expert recommends bringing your own pillow, as well as a sleep mask and earplugs, to help promote better rest. (iStock)

This might include bringing a small nightlight if you use one at home, adjusting the room’s temperature to your liking, and using a white noise machine to block unfamiliar sounds, he suggests. 

“These small adjustments can help make the new space feel more familiar, which will aid you in falling asleep quicker,” Seeley said.

RARE SLEEP DISORDER CAUSES PEOPLE TO COOK AND EAT FOOD WHILE THEY’RE ASLEEP

Rohrscheib also recommends bringing your own pillow, as well as a sleep mask and earplugs.

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“You can’t be sure your accommodations will have sufficient blackout blinds or soundproofing,” she said.

3. Stay active during the day leading up to your first night

Seeley recommends spending time outside during the day to help regulate your body’s internal clock

“Whether it’s swimming, hiking or exploring local sights on foot, physical exertion can help promote better sleep at night,” he advised. 

Man sleeping on plane

If traveling to a different time zone, that can disrupt the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s 24-hour biological clock, experts say. (iStock)

“Also, natural sunlight exposure helps reinforce your circadian rhythm, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night.”

Once you arrive at your destination, it’s important to continue to get ample exposure to sunlight within the first hour of waking at your travel destination, Rohrscheib noted, as this will help reset your internal clock.

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4. Stick to your usual bedtime routine

Maintaining your usual bedtime routine sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to wind down, according to Seeley. 

“Engage in the same pre-sleep activities you do at home, whether it’s reading a book, taking a warm shower or listening to calming music,” he advised. 

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“This consistency helps cue your brain to prepare for sleep.”

If traveling with children, Seeley recommends encouraging them to stick to regular routines as well — such as brushing their teeth, reading a bedtime story or cuddling with a favorite toy — to help them feel more secure and ready for bed.

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little boy yawns in bed

If traveling with children, experts recommend encouraging them to stick to regular routines to help them feel more secure and ready for bed. (iStock)

“Anything that your brain associates with your normal bedtime environment will make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep,” he said.

5. Stay active during the day leading up to your first night

Spend time outside during the day to help regulate your body’s internal clock, experts recommend. 

“Whether it’s swimming, hiking or exploring local sights on foot, physical exertion can help promote better sleep at night,” Seeley advised. 

“Also, natural sunlight exposure helps reinforce your circadian rhythm, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night.”

6. Adjust your schedule

If you are traveling out of your time zone, Rohrscheib recommends adjusting your sleep schedule in the days leading up to your departure to make the transition easier. 

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“You can also help reset your biological clock by taking a low dose of melatonin at the time you wish to sleep while traveling,” Rohrscheib suggested.  

Man on phone

Experts recommend avoiding the use of electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. (iStock)

“Taking melatonin for a week before you leave can help you reset your biological clock faster.”

7. Limit screen time 

“Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops at least an hour before bedtime,” Seeley said. 

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews/health

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“The blue light emitted from screens can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep.”

Rohrscheib also recommends avoiding bright lights — especially from electronic devices — the hour before you go to sleep at your destination.

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Before Biden, these 5 past presidents faced health issues amid re-election

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Before Biden, these 5 past presidents faced health issues amid re-election

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President Biden announced on Sunday that he has dropped out of the 2024 presidential race.

Although the White House press office told Fox News Digital on Monday that “health was not a factor” in the president’s decision to withdraw, multiple doctors expressed concern about signs of cognitive decline after Biden’s widely criticized performance in the June 27 presidential debate.

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Two medical experts told Fox News Digital their belief that Biden’s decision to step down is best for the president’s health.

AFTER BIDEN DROPS OUT OF RACE, DOCTORS REVEAL WHY THE DECISION WAS BEST FOR HIS HEALTH

Biden, however, isn’t the only president whose re-election was potentially thwarted by health issues or concerns. 

Here are five others. 

Presidents Woodrow Wilson, left, Franklin D. Roosevelt, center, and Theodore Roosevelt all experienced health issues while in office. (Getty Images)

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1. Chester A. Arthur (21st president, 1881-1885)

After he became America’s 21st president in 1881, Chester Arthur experienced health complications due to malaria, which remained endemic in Washington, D.C., throughout the 19th century, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In 1882, Arthur continued to suffer from progressive fatigue, extreme weight loss and peripheral edema, the NIH reported.

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After a closer health inspection, Arthur was diagnosed with Bright’s disease, today known as chronic kidney disease.

chester arthur portrait

Chester A. Arthur, 1829-86, 21st president of the United States, is shown in a portrait in the 1880s. (Glasshouse Vintage/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The president’s health worsened during his last two years in office, with reported symptoms of fluid retention, rigors (shaking or shivering), nausea and colicky abdominal pain.

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As the 1884 election inched closer, Arthur sought a second term — but lost the Republican nomination to James G. Blaine, the speaker of the House. 

Blaine went on to lose the election to Democrat Grover Cleveland.

Arthur died on Nov. 18, 1886, at age 57, according to the Smithsonian. 

2. Theodore Roosevelt (26th president, 1901-1909)

Theodore Roosevelt took over as commander in chief at nearly 43 years old in 1901 following the assassination of President William McKinley, according to the White House Historical Association. 

Roosevelt was then re-elected in 1904.

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After William Howard Taft’s term, which began in 1909, Roosevelt decided to re-join the race in 1912, creating his own “Bull Moose” party.

While campaigning on Oct. 14, 1912, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Roosevelt was shot during an assassination attempt outside the Gilpatrick Hotel.

teddy roosevelt at his desk

President Theodore Roosevelt is pictured at his office in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 10, 1903. (History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The bullet was slowed by Roosevelt’s dense overcoat, his steel-reinforced eyeglasses case and his 50-page speech folded in his inner right jacket pocket, as History.com reported.

The bullet punctured the president’s right chest, but did not damage his lungs. It was left lodged inside his ribs — which was deemed safer than operating.

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ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, OCTOBER 14, 1912, TEDDY ROOSEVELT SHOT IN CHEST, MAKES CAMPAIGN STOP MINUTES LATER

Roosevelt continued his campaign while in recovery — but was beaten by Democrat Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 election.

3. Woodrow Wilson (28th president, 1913-1921)

Woodrow Wilson carried out two full terms and intended to run for a third.

But the then-president was “severely hindered” by a neurological condition that caused him to suffer from strokes before and during his presidency, according to the NIH.

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Before he took office, three strokes affected his right hand and left arm, and caused blindness in his left eye.

A damaging stroke during his presidency in October 1919 left Wilson paralyzed on the left side and with only partial vision in his right eye. 

He was confined to his bed for several weeks, the NIH reported.

woodrow wilson portrait

Woodrow Wilson’s portrait was taken during his campaign for New Jersey governor in 1910. (Circa Images/GHI/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Wilson did not sufficiently recover from this episode. 

In 1920, the Republicans requested confirmation that he was still able to carry out his duties as required by the Constitution. 

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The president’s doctor, Dr. Cary Grayson, would not publicly comment on Wilson’s health status as Wilson pursued re-election for a third term.

PRESIDENTS DAY: GREAT ADVICE FROM GREAT US PRESIDENTS FOR MODERN-DAY AMERICA

By the time of the Democratic convention that summer, however, Grayson shared Wilson’s poor medical state with party leaders and rejected the idea of a third term.

Wilson was ultimately not given the presidential nomination, and Republican Warren G. Harding was elected in 1920.

4. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd president, 1933-1945)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was the only U.S. president to serve more than two terms in office, as he was elected four times throughout the Depression and World War II.

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Roosevelt had suffered from health issues since his paralysis as a result of polio at 39 years old, according to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum.

franklin roosevelt at desk

Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd U.S. president, is pictured at his desk in Washington, D.C., in 1933. (Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

During his third term in office, Roosevelt was diagnosed with heart disease, which was kept hidden from the public ahead of his re-election for a fourth term, the NIH reported.

Throughout 1944, Roosevelt’s team of doctors monitored his waning health, continuously recording high blood pressure measurements. 

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These heart complications were attributed to the “unending stress and strain of the war,” according to the FDR Library and Museum.

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Roosevelt was chosen as the Democratic nominee in 1944 and continued with his campaign, even while facing skepticism about his physical fitness for office.

president franklin roosevelt at his desk

President Franklin Roosevelt in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., in 1934. (History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Although he won his fourth presidential election, Roosevelt was “debilitated” by his condition, according to the NIH.

On April 12, 1945, Roosevelt complained of a headache to his physician, Dr. Howard Bruenn.

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Roosevelt’s blood pressure hit 300/190 and he lost consciousness. 

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Bruenn diagnosed the event as a stroke and declared the president dead at age 63.

5. Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th president, 1953-1961)

Dwight Eisenhower began his first term in 1953 and suffered from two major illnesses, according to the NIH.

He experienced a heart attack in September 1955, keeping him out of the White House for recovery until December.

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Although Eisenhower got clearance from his doctors, the NIH reported that his cardiologists recommended against his running for a second term.

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The president decided to run for re-election anyway, which was followed by his second major health event in June 1956 — resulting in a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease.

U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower with Willy Brandt

President Dwight Eisenhower is pictured with Willy Brandt, mayor of West Berlin, in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11, 1959. (Circa Images/GHI/Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Eisenhower underwent an exploratory laparotomy and ileal bypass surgery for a bowel obstruction, which was successful.

After a full recovery, Eisenhower was re-elected for a second term, despite questions from the opposition about his fitness for office.

      

The following year, in November 1957, Eisenhower suffered a stroke but ultimately fulfilled his presidency.

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After leaving office, Eisenhower suffered multiple heart attacks in the 1960s. 

He died of congestive heart failure on March 28, 1969, at 78 years old.

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