John F. Kennedy had the public image of a healthy, vital, young man, elected president at just 43 years old. But he suffered from a variety of medical problems, hidden by the Kennedy family and staff. Kennedy developed increasing back pain, fever, and disability, and began losing weight, dropping from 160 to 125 pounds after the now-famous 1943 incident in which his PT 109 was cut in two during an attack by a Japanese destroyer in June 1944.
In 1946, during his campaign for Congress, Kennedy collapsed at an event and required emergency care for low blood pressure. In 1947, after diagnostic tests, doctors gave a prognosis of “No more than a year to live.” That same year, he was given last rites. What was Kennedy’s condition that grew so severe he was administered the last rites then and two more times while traveling in London and Asia?
The diagnosis for John F. Kennedy was adrenal gland failure, also known as Addison’s disease. Both his right and left adrenal glands failed to produce enough of the adrenal hormones, cortisone and aldosterone, to sustain life. In addition, Kennedy showedhis health did become an issue. signs of insufficient thyroid hormone.
The Kennedy campaign worked hard to keep his condition secret but his health did become an issue. One U.S. Rep wanted Kennedy to respond to all the rumors about his health.
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