Bush's Physical Condition 'Incredible,' Doctor Says

From Associated Press

President Bush's heart has returned to normal after the irregular pulse he suffered last spring, and he is "in incredible physical condition" despite a thyroid problem, his doctors said Friday.

After a medical examination at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bush was given what he described as a "perfect bill of health" and was taken off his remaining heart medication.

"All of the tests have been completely normal," chief White House physician Burton Lee said after the President's 1 1/2-hour checkup, which included a physical exam, an echocardiogram and a stress test on a treadmill.

"During his stress test today, I finally asked him to stop," Lee said. "This man is in incredible physical condition."

The irregular heartbeat, which struck Bush on May 4 as he was jogging at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., was subsequently blamed on a hyperactive thyroid gland.

Bush, 67, was found to be suffering from Graves' disease--the same thyroid ailment that has affected his wife since 1989. He was given radioactive thyroid treatments that destroyed the gland, and he has been taking daily thyroid replacement medicine ever since.

Lee said that Bush was taken off Coumadin, a drug he had been taking to prevent blood clots. The President earlier had stopped taking two other drugs that regulated his heart rate.

The doctor said also that all earlier restrictions on Bush, including ones on consuming alcohol and on vigorous exercise, have been lifted.

The President will continue to get a low dosage of aspirin daily, to help guard against heart attacks, Lee said.

Bush was asked by reporters as he returned to the White House if he was all right. "Yeah, 100% . . . perfect bill of health," he said.

The President has said that only a health condition might keep him from seeking reelection. And, when Lee was asked if there were any health reasons why Bush could not run again, the doctor said, "None whatsoever."

Bush's press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, had given a similar response earlier in the day. "No doubt in my mind," Fitzwater said. "I expect him to run."

"For a person in his mid-60s, the President's overall fitness level is incredible," said Dr. Bruce Lloyd, a cardiologist, at a medical briefing at the naval hospital.

Lee said that Bush will continue to be monitored by the White House medical staff on a regular basis, but he called this routine.

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