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Blair Treated for Erratic Heartbeat, Then Released

October 20, 2003|From Times Wire Services

LONDON — British Prime Minister Tony Blair was hospitalized briefly Sunday with an irregular heartbeat, his office said, but doctors restored it to normal with electrical stimulation and released him.

"This was completely successful. He was in hospital for four to five hours and is now back at Number 10," his office at 10 Downing St. said in a statement. "He has suffered no damage and he is fine."

Blair, 50, has no history of heart problems and is known to be a vitamin-popping fitness enthusiast who plays tennis and works out regularly on a treadmill. But he has looked stressed and drawn through much of 2003, first as he sold an unpopular war in Iraq to skeptical Britons, then when critics attacked him for his office's role in revealing the name of an Iraq weapons expert who committed suicide.

The incident was the first hint of health problems for Blair since he became premier in 1997. He was expected to return to work full time Tuesday, his office said.

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