While it is well known now that President Franklin D. Roosevelt suffered from partial paralysis from polio (he was stricken with the disease when he was 39 years old) that was hidden from the United States during his twelve years as president of the country, what is hardly known is that in the last several years of his life, President Roosevelt’s diastolic hypertension grew significantly worse and he began suffering symptoms of vascular dementia as a result.
Beginning in 1939, President Roosevelt was diagnosed with hypertension, with blood pressure readings averaging between 180/100 and 190/110.
The president’s medical team was never able to get his blood pressure consistently lowered, and, in fact over the next six years, it was more normal for President Roosevelt’s blood pressure to be in the 230/120 to 300/140 range when it was checked (which, surprisingly, given his condition, was not often).
Before President Roosevelt ran for his last term, signs of vascular dementia in terms of cognitive impairment had already materialized.
In addition to the president’s other worsening health problems, he was in no shape for and never should have run for a fourth term as president of the United States.
However, despite the evidence that everyone around him saw and was well aware of, no one stopped President Roosevelt’s last election and no one questioned the wisdom of having someone with cognitive impairment manage the last days of World War II.
History has shown that President Roosevelt’s cognitive impairment was fully apparent at the Yalta conference with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill in February 1945 (two months before President Roosevelt died after suffering a massive cerebral hemorrhage in Georgia).
Many of the factors that should have been addressed with Stalin and the Soviet Union at this conference by President Roosevelt (as the leader of the world’s strongest nation, which the United States emerged as in World War II) were not.
These critical and strategic omissions/concessions directly contributed to the vise-like grip that the Soviet Union – and the spread of Communism – had on eastern Europe after the war and the ensuing Cold War that lasted for almost 50 years.
It is clear in retrospect that President Roosevelt’s dementia played a crucial role in how the geopolitical landscape of the world shaped up, detrimentally, for the next half century.
President Roosevelt died at the age of 63 in Warm Springs, Georgia on April 12, 1945. His last known words were “I have a terrific headache.” He lost consciousness and was dead within two hours.