Sarkozy leaves hospital with clean bill of health

28th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy walked out of Paris military hospital on Monday after overnight tests confirmed that his collapse the day before was unrelated to any heart problems.

Paris – A smiling Nicolas Sarkozy left a Paris military hospital on Monday after doctors gave the French president a clean bill of health. They said he had collapsed while jogging through simple fatigue.

Sarkozy left the Val de Grace Hospital hand in hand with his supermodel wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, thanked medical staff and waved to journalists before getting into his official car and being driven off.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said he was delighted to have met a Sarkozy who was "fit and well" and ready to get back to work.

His office issued a statement confirming that doctors had found no sign of heart or neurological trouble and had diagnosed the 54-year-old as having suffered a minor fainting episode caused by overwork.

"The diagnosis is thus one of a near-syncope caused by sustained effort during hot weather, without loss of consciousness, in the context of fatigue linked to a heavy workload," the Elysee Palace said.

Doctors have recommended that Sarkozy rest, so he has postponed a visit on Tuesday to the Mont Saint Michel abbey in Normandy but will chair Wednesday's cabinet meeting as planned, the statement added.

On leaving the hospital he was driven back to La Lanterne, his weekend retreat in woods west of Paris. He is to leave at the end of the week for a three-week holiday at the Bruni seaside retreat at Cap Negre.

"No medical treatment has been prescribed. He was advised to take a few days of relative rest," the statement said.

Sarkozy collapsed on Sunday while jogging in the wooded parkland around the Palace of Versailles just outside Paris on a hot and humid summer day.

His bodyguards and his official doctor were in the running party and were able to help him lie down, while Bruni-Sarkozy raced to the scene of the incident on a police motorbike, a witness told AFP.

Sarkozy was taken by helicopter to Val de Grace, a military hospital which traditionally treats French presidents.

Officials in Sarkozy's office insisted the president was "doing well" and played down the incident, while others blamed his notoriously ambitious schedule and his action man image.

While the president is likely to make a full physical recovery and quickly resume his gruelling schedule, there may be more lasting damage to his carefully crafted image as a young, thrusting leader.

"He takes a lot onto himself. He's hyperactive, everyone can see that," Patrick Devedjian, the minister charged with overseeing Sarkozy's plan to revive the failing French economy, said on RTL radio.

Former president Francois Mitterrand left office aged 78 and concealed prostate cancer for more than a decade. Sarkozy's predecessor Jacques Chirac left office aged 76 and once spent a week in hospital with vascular trouble.

To mark a contrast with his often frail forebears, Sarkozy has played up his vigour, and is regularly photographed jogging and cycling in his trademark New York Police Department T-shirt, sometimes with famous sportsmen.

While running for office he promised to make his annual health checkups public, although in fact he only did so once and was in 2008 caught out for having concealed minor throat surgery from the public.

Writing in the regional newspaper Charente Libre, Dominique Garraud said voters have no way of knowing if this was Sarkozy's first medical problem.

Some commentators said the collapse may have political consequences for a president who has usurped much of the power that traditionally belongs to the prime minister and put himself at the centre of all government business.

"It's unlikely that the image of 'the president who governs' – as he likes to define himself – alert and dashing, present on all fronts and exhausted by nothing will leave Val de Grace intact," warned the newspaper Le Monde.

AFP / Expatica

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