(UPDATE 3) FG Arroyo's condition stable but guarded

Posted at 03/25/10 11:22 AM

MANILA, Philippines - First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo was rushed to the hospital early Thursday due to a heart ailment.

Dr. Rommel Cariño, a cardiac surgeon, said Mr. Arroyo was brought to the St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig around 8 a.m. He said the First Gentleman developed a redissection of the thoracic aorta and experienced back pains.

"The condition calls for intense medical care to control the blood pressure and heart rate to prevent further redissection. A rupture can cause compression of the blood supply to various vital organs," he said.

A new medical bulletin issued past 7 p.m. said Mr. Arroyo "developed a new tear in the thoracic aorta."

"This is beyond the previously repaired part and we call it redissection in medical terms. This needs aggressive medical treatment to prevent further dissection, which can compromise the blood supply of the other vital organs. Right now, his condition is stable but guarded," said Dr. Juliet Cervantes, Arroyo's attending physician.

Deputy Presidential Spokesman Ricardo Saludo said President Arroyo canceled all her activities including a speech at the prosecutors' league conference at the Manila Hotel to be with her husband. "He is undergoing treatment and we, of course, pray for his speedy recovery from this ailment," he said.

Some of President Arroyo's critics, meanwhile, said they are praying for the First Gentleman's recovery.

Former President Joseph Estrada said he is "praying for [Mr. Arroyo's] speedy recovery."

Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, meanwhile, quipped: "I think we should pray for everybody who is sick."

4th time in 4 years

It was the fourth time that First Gentleman Arroyo has been hospitalized for the past four years. In three of those occasions, the reason cited was heart problems.

In December 2006, Arroyo underwent an angioplasty procedure to remove a blockage in his arteries. Upon his release from hospital, doctors instructed Arroyo to change his diet and refrain from fatty foods.

In April 2007, Arroyo was airlifted from Baguio City to Manila after experiencing massive stomach pains on Easter Sunday. He later underwent open heart surgery after being diagnosed with dissecting aortic aneurysm.

Since then, Arroyo has been undergoing regular therapy at the St. Luke's Medical Center on Quezon City.

In November 2008, a plane carrying the First Gentleman to Peru had to make an emergency landing in Japan after Arroyo complained of stomach pains. He was later diagnosed with diarrhea.

FG heart condition 'could be catastrophic'

Dr. Jose Gonzales, a renowned heart surgeon and medical director of the Philippine General Hospital, said Arroyo's latest ailment is serious. He said redissection of the thoracic aorta cannot be avoided in a patient that has had several episodes of heart ailments.

"When the blood pressure shoots up, it can't be contained by the aorta. Kumbaga magkakaroon na ng leak, at pag nag-break na iyong mga walls, wala nang supply ng dugo," he said.

Gonzales said people at "high risk" from redissection of the thoracic aorta are usually overweight, diabetic, have high cholesterol and like to eat meat.

He said patients with these risk factors are usually instructed to monitor their diet since the threat could remain for life.

"Catastrophic ito. Pag sinabi nating catastrophic hindi ibig sabihin mamatay ka. Pero pag inoperahan ka, at any moment, pwede kang mamatay," he said.

Dr. Ludgerio Torres, director of the Philippine Heart Center, said Arroyo was diagnosed with dissecting aneurysm a few years back.

The dissection, he said, is caused by an increase in the blood pressure that destroys the fragility of the wall of the aorta. “When your blood pressure elevates than the usual normal, it will tear apart, it will try to release the attachment of inner layer from the rest of the wall of the aorta,” he said.

He said that the redissection or tear will not be occurring in the previous operated area.

“If the pain starts at the back, that part of the back might have the new site of dissection or tearing or separation of that inner layer,” he said.

Gonzales said a weakened aorta could affect blood flow to other organs of the body including the kidneys, lungs and even nerves of the feet.

He said any patient who does not undergo treatment for the weakened aortic wall could die at any time

"It's a walking time bomb. The operation is not a complete cure. You have to change lifestyle and food habits," he said.

He said those who undergo a heart bypass should avoid stressful sports such as golf and avoid eating red meat. Reports from Timi Nubla, Ron Gagalac and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News