French President Falls Ill, Will Remain Hospitalized Overnight

YEARENDER-2007-FRANCE-POLITICS-SARKOZYBy Edward Cody

Washington Post
July 26, 2009

PARIS — President Nicolas Sarkozy of France collapsed while jogging Sunday afternoon and was rushed to a military hospital for tests. His office described the incident as a minor fainting spell and said he never lost consciousness.

Sarkozy, 54, fell victim to what officials qualified as a “vasovagal episode” as he ran in 84-degree summer weather on the grounds of the Lanterne hunting lodge, a presidential retreat near the Versailles Palace west of Paris. He was helicoptered to Val-de-Grace military hospital in the capital, where he was said to be awake and talking with his doctors.

A vagal syncope, which involves the vagus nerve, is the most common form of fainting and is not considered life-threatening. It can be brought on by strenuous exercise in hot weather.

Sarkozy’s office said neurological tests administered at Val-de-Grace were normal but the president would be hospitalized overnight for further monitoring of his heart.

“The president is completely conscious,” Claude Gueant, secretary general of Sarkozy’s staff at the Elysee Palace, told Le Parisien newspaper. “His illness did not last a long time.”

Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot also described the incident as minor and suggested the president, an avid sports fan, probably was able to watch the final lap of the Tour de France bicycle race on television in his hospital room. The tour finished Sunday afternoon with a sprint down the Champs Elysees.

Sarkozy, short and compact, has often been seen jogging, which along with cycling is his favorite form of exercise. He was photographed trotting in Central Park last weekend while in New York to watch his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, sing in a tribute to Nelson Mandela.

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