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Published: Monday, 7/27/2009

France's Sarkozy leaves hospital after heart check

ASSOCIATED PRESS

PARIS French President Nicolas Sarkozy was discharged Monday from the hospital where he spent the night after collapsing while jogging. Doctors said his illness was due to heat and overwork and ordered the 54-year-old to rest but prescribed no further medical treatment, his office said.

Medical tests Monday on Sarkozy's heart showed no signs of irregular heartbeat and no long term consequences for the president's heart. Doctors diagnosed Sarkozy with "lipothymic" discomfort due to overexertion at high temperatures in a "context of fatigue linked to a large workload," the statement said.

Tests showed no neurological or metabolic consequences, the statement also said, adding that Sarkozy suffered no "loss of consciousness," contradicting earlier reports from senior French officials.

Sarkozy left the Val-de-Grace military hospital at midmorning, but it was unclear where he went. All of his official activities Monday were canceled, and a visit to Normandy on Tuesday was postponed. Sarkozy was still expected to chair the regular Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday, the last event before the government takes a three-week break.

Sarkozy collapsed Sunday while jogging on the grounds of the Chateau of Versailles, halfway into his five-year term.

Military doctors quickly performed a battery of tests on Sarkozy, who is known for his sportiness and hectic schedule. The presidential Elysee Palace said Sarkozy's test results were normal but doctors decided to keep him overnight under cardiological observation.

"It's a little incident that could happen to anyone at some point in their life, above all ... to anyone who works a lot," said Patrick Devedjian, France's minister for economic recovery and a close friend of Sarkozy.

French Sports Minister Rama Yade said she was alerted soon after the incident and was "told right away that it was minor and that it was not serious."

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, not the president, was to meet Monday afternoon with representatives of French banks, and Sarkozy's trip Tuesday to Mont-Saint-Michel, a Gothic abbey perched on a rocky outcrop off the coast of Normandy, was postponed.

The French leader's three-week long summer holiday was to begin Thursday.

After his collapse Sunday, Sarkozy was rushed by helicopter to a military hospital. "Today, late in the morning, while he was jogging in the park at the Chateau of Versailles, the president of the republic felt unwell. This episode, which came after 45 minutes of intense physical activity, was not accompanied by a loss of consciousness," the palace statement said.

Temperatures reached 28 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit) at Versailles on Sunday afternoon.

Sarkozy, an avid jogger and cyclist, was forced to interrupt his run and "lie down with the help of an aide," the statement said. A presidential doctor who is with Sarkozy at all times sounded the alert and administered initial treatment.

Piotr Moszynski, a journalist, told France Info radio that he saw the French leader running with his bodyguards in the lush grounds of the Chateau de Versailles and that Sarkozy appeared sluggish.

"He looked really tired and was almost dragging his feet," Moszynski said. "I said to myself 'if he wants to show off, it wasn't very effective.'"

Doctors at Val-de-Grace conducted neurological, blood and cardiological tests as well as an EEG an electroencephalogram. Sarkozy, ever mindful of his image, received close advisers Sunday to keep up on the news and rested.

Sarkozy was elected in 2007. He last underwent a medical examination July 3, when his cardiovascular and blood tests were normal, the Elysee's medical service said.

The first medical bulletin issued shortly after his 2007 election said Sarkozy's health was "good" and compatible with his presidential duties. Since his election, Sarkozy has maintained a frenetic pace, traveling the world and performing political activities, as well as divorcing his second wife and marrying his third, the former fashion model and singer Carla Bruni.

During his presidential campaign, Sarkozy pushed for greater transparency on presidential health bulletins, but his short hospital stay for a throat problem in 2007 was revealed only three months later.

Previous French presidents regularly concealed their health problems.

The French public learned that former President Georges Pompidou had bone marrow cancer only after he died of it, while in office, on April 2, 1974.

Former President Francois Mitterrand, who led France from 1981-95 and died of prostate cancer just months after leaving office, ordered his doctor to systematically falsify his health bulletins for 11 years.

Former President Jacques Chirac was hospitalized for a week at Val-de-Grace in 2005 for a vascular problem and officials never fully explained what was wrong.



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