by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
January 30, 2002
BUSH HAS CARDIAC ARRHYTHMIA, COLLEGE STATION REVEALS
LOS ANGELES -- President Bush has a classic form of cardiac arrhythmia that was responsible for his fainting spell two weeks ago, a Pasadena, Calif., college radio station has revealed. The White House confirmed the report.
Mr. Bush, who fainted after gagging on a pretzel as he watched the NFL playoffs alone in his White House quarters on Jan. 13, suffers from a condition known as Brady's sinus arrhythmia, said David Robb, a freelance reporter for Pasadena, Calif.-based National Public Radio affiliate KPCC (89.3 FM), located on the campus of Pasadena City College. The station revealed the condition on its Website on Jan. 25, a station spokesman said. The condition stems from the fact that the President's heart beatsmore slowly than normal hearts.
While it was well-known that the President had a slow heart rate, "the White House has not volunteered, and the media has not reported, that the President's slow heart rate is due to a heart arrhythmia called sinus bradycardia. But now the White House is confirming this," Robb reported.
"The president has sinus bradycardia consistent with athletic conditioning," White House physician Richard Tubbs said through spokesman Ken Lisaius. "The President's resting heart rate is 38 to 49 beats perminute."
Paul Glickman, a spokesman for KPCC, said the White House had questioned whether "'arrhythmia' was the 'appropriate' term" for the President's illness.
Dr. Harold Karpman, a physician at Cedars-Sinain Medical Center inLos Angeles, termed that heart rate "the very definition of bradycardia."
"There is no doubt," Karpman told KPCC's Robb. "Anything under 60 (beats per minute) is defined as bradycardia."
"Bradycardia is an arrhythmia -- a malfunction of rhythm," saidDr. Karpman, the founder of a company that makes the Holter monitor, aheart-testing device. "A lot of people have bradycardia and they get along very well. But when the heart rate starts to get into the 30s, then that is really an area that we have to be concerned about."
Robb, who was in the news extensively in 2001 after he resigned from the Hollywood Reporter when it spiked his story on the financial dealings of Hollywood Reporter columnist George Christie, was critical of the media coverage of the President's illness.
"Had the press known that President Bush has sinus bradycardia, and that fainting is a common symptom of bradycardia, the story might have been reported much differently. But the press didn't ask the right question, and the White House didn't volunteer the right answer. Instead, the Bush White House focused on the pretzel, and the press swallowed the story whole," Robb wrote.
No mention of the condition was made during the 2000 presidential campaign, when the health of the four major-party candidates -- and particularly of the president's vice-presidential running mate Dick Cheney -- came under intense scrutiny. The Vice President has since had several heart episodes that left him briefly hospitalized.
The KPCC Website is http://www.kpcc.org.