Tony Blair’s heart

Tony Blair’s heart
: Tony Blair ended up in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat.

I share the condition (an indirect outcropping of September 11).

I’m not a doctor and don’t play one on television but as a patient, here’s what I know:

The condition, atrial fibrillation, is not immediately life-threatening; the danger is if blood collects in the heart as it pumps inefficiently and forms clots that can cause strokes. (Ventricular fibrilation, on the other hand, is immediately life-threatening.)

Afib, as we vets call it, is treated with various drugs that slow the heart-rate (which is usually elevated at first) until the heart rhythm “converts.” If that doesn’t work, they may get to shocking the heart electrically back into line. That is what they did to Blair; I’m surprised they got to it so soon in his first attack. But, again, I’m no doctor.

On an ongoing basis, I take beta blockers (which slow down my running and probably dull my intelligence) and a daily aspirin (to prevent those clots) and that’s pretty much it.

I have found that anger, surprise, upset, or other strong emotions can bring this on. So I do wonder what the question period would do to the old rhythm. I wonder whether, if he shares my experience, it might make him more cautious. But I doubt it. He’s still Blair. He’s tougher than I am.

Blair and I are hardly alone. Bill Bradley shares the condition. Dick Cheney, on the other hand, is at risk for deadly ventricular fibrillation and that’s why he had a pacemaker installed.

: Read the comments to hear from someone who appears to know what he’s talking about (unlike me).

I can just tell you what it’s like to feel the heart becoming uncooperative.

: UPDATE: The Guardian’s political editor seems to wish that this leads Blair closer to the exit door. That’s absurd and wrong-headed.

Wonder whether they would suggest that Yasser Arafat’s health should also lead him to the exit. Or the Pope’s.

: David Blaine had irregular heartbeats. And people pelted him with eggs, too.