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JFK's Health Problems More Complex Than Thought
Date:8/31/2009

President suffered from a rare autoimmune condition, new report finds

MONDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- The complicated medical history of John F. Kennedy still exerts a pull on medical sleuths nearly 50 years after the former president's death.

A new report by a U.S. Navy physician claims that Kennedy suffered from a more complex endocrine problem than the Addison's disease he was diagnosed with as a young man.

In the Sept. 1 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Lee Mandel, senior medical officer aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, writes that Kennedy suffered from autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2 (APS-2), a rare disorder that can lead to Addison's disease, hypothyroidism and other glandular diseases.

Mandel based his findings on the voluminous medical records now open to the public at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston.

"Kennedy had more medical issues than most of us were aware of," said Mandel, a specialist in internal medicine and an amateur historian. "But he got the job done despite all of those conditions. I admire the man."

Kennedy's first bout with adrenal disease was in the 1940s. On a trip to England in 1947, Kennedy, then a congressman from Massachusetts, collapsed. A physician diagnosed Addison's, an adrenal gland defect, and told Kennedy's friends that he had less than a year to live. Kennedy returned to the United States, where he began treatment with first-generation steroids.

Addison's disease occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough hormones, especially cortisol, which has many major functions, among them maintaining blood pressure, cardiovascular function and healthy levels of glucose in the blood. Symptoms of Addison's include fatigue, extreme weakness and substantial weight loss, all of which Kennedy experienced before he started therapy.

Kennedy's doctor's also believed tha
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