Bush Faints While Watching TV at White House

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Sunday January 13 10:42 PM ET

Bush Faints While Watching TV at White House

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush (news - web sites) fainted and fell off a couch on Sunday evening after choking on a pretzel while watching a televised football game, but a subsequent medical examination showed he was fine, his doctor said.

The president's physician, Air Force Col. Richard Tubb, said Bush had complained in the last couple of days that he might be coming down with a cold. This condition combined with his having just eaten a pretzel that he did not swallow properly caused his heart rate to slow, and as a result he fainted.

Tubb said Bush, 55, who was at the White House, ended up with an abrasion on his left cheek and a small bruise on his lower lip after hitting his head on the carpeted floor when he fell off the couch.

The incident occurred at 5:35 p.m. EST as Bush watched the NFL playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Miami Dolphins, which Baltimore won 20-3. His wife, Laura, was on the telephone in the next room.

When Bush woke up on the floor, he immediately alerted the nurse on duty downstairs at the White House, Air Force Maj. Cindy Wright.

She found Bush's vital signs to be normal and called in Tubb, who gave Bush a series of tests including an electrocardiogram to check his heart. There was no evidence of a heart arrhythmia, heart blockage or heart muscle problems.

As of 7:07 p.m. EST, Bush's heart, blood pressure and blood sugar were all normal, Tubb said. His blood pressure was 111 over 70. Normal is 120 over 80.

``I did not find anything to indicate it was serious whatsoever,'' Tubb said. ``He fainted due to a temporary decreased heart rate.'' Bush last underwent a physical examination in August and was pronounced in ``excellent health.''

Tubb said Bush's strenuous athletic conditioning program was partly a cause for what happened. Bush can run a mile in under seven minutes, and has a resting pulse rate of 35 to 45 beats per minute, far lower than the normal rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Bush had an aggressive workout in the White House exercise room on Saturday and also worked out on Sunday, the doctor said.


Tubb said his already slow heart rate, combined with a pretzel that did not go down properly, plus the fact that he had felt he was coming down with a head cold, caused his heart rate to drop further and he fainted.

He diagnosed Bush as having a ``neurally mediated syncope,'' which is basically a common fainting spell.

``He was sitting on the couch, swallowed a pretzel. The next thing you knew he's on the floor,'' said Tubb.

The fact that Bush fell on the floor helped, because it increased the blood flow to his head.

While Bush has been leading the country's response to the Sept. 11 attacks, Tubb said there was no evidence that stress caused the incident.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer (news - web sites) said Bush figured he had only been unconscious for a few seconds because when he looked at his dogs, they were ``both in the same position. They were looking at him funny.''

``He woke up and he has an ugly scrape on his cheek. And he is now back in the residence. He just had dinner with Mrs. Bush,'' said Fleischer.

Fleischer said Bush still planned to go ahead with a two-day trip to Illinois, Missouri and Louisiana on Monday. He said Bush would see how he felt on Monday morning, however.

``At this point he plans to travel tomorrow,'' said Fleischer.

Bush's father, then-president George Bush, collapsed with an irregular heartbeat while jogging at Camp David in 1991, which was later blamed on Graves' disease, a thyroid problem.

The White House told the media about Bush's fainting spell soon after it occurred, rather than waiting. Last month the White House drew fire by waiting a weekend before telling reporters that Bush had several skin growths removed from his face.

-- (let the @ jokes. begin), January 13, 2002


Sheesh, I knew it wouldn't be long after he took over that he started drinking again. The idiot couldn't even make it through his first year before he went on another binge and drank himself into a stupor. He has no moral fiber or backbone, totally gutless and pathetic.

-- (Dumbya@munching.carpet), January 14, 2002.

they already did in the thread below yours

-- (look@out.below), January 14, 2002.

-- (Dubya @ down. and out), January 14, 2002.

Monday January 14 3:28 PM ET

Bush's Choking Episode Shows Chewing Is Important

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush (news - web sites) has learned the hard way that his mother was right -- you should not stuff dry pretzels down your gullet and you should pay attention when eating, an expert said on Monday.

Doctors said there were several possible medical explanations for the incident on Sunday in which Bush apparently passed out after a pretzel went down the wrong way.

``My mother always said when you're eating pretzels, chew before you swallow,'' Bush told reporters on Monday.

Dr. William Ravich, who directs the swallowing center at Johns Hopkins University medical school in Baltimore, said choking can cause a person to faint, an occurrence known as vasovagal syncope.

Pain, such as that caused by a cramp or choking, sends a signal to the vagus nerve, which in turns signals the heart, slowing it down so much that the person faints.

``It refers to a neurologically mediated fainting episode that is usually brought on by stress or pain,'' Ravich said in a telephone interview.

``It is something like when a person sees blood, he or she faints from the sight of blood,'' Ravich said. ``It is a stress-related response. ... If somebody felt he couldn't breathe, stress could cause you to lose consciousness. It would essentially lower blood pressure.''

If Bush coughed and coughed to get rid of the pretzel, he could also have fainted from that, Ravich said.

Simply having one's trachea blocked by food can also cause a faint, Ravich said.

There were no witnesses, but Ravich said Bush would likely have turned blue before he fainted.

``It is the type of thing the Heimlich maneuver is performed for,'' he said.

The Heimlich maneuver is a carefully placed push that can help dislodge an object from a choking person's throat.

While choking is embarrassing, it is not unusual, Ravich said.

``It can occur if a person is distracted,'' he said, perhaps while shouting at a television screen during a sporting event. ''Maybe presidents are more distracted than others,'' he added.

``Most people at one time or another can recall feeling that something went down the wrong pipe.''

Choking can also be caused by a number of disorders, especially if the many muscles involved in swallowing do not work together.

So was grandma right when she advised chewing 30 times before swallowing?

``Who would possibly count?'' Ravich asked. ``You swallow 600 times a day. Those are old wives tales. But you do want to chew your food and when people get in trouble is when they are not paying attention to chewing.''

Bush's doctor checked him out after the incident and said he was fine, aside from a scrape on his cheek and a cut lip.

-- (listen@to.momma), January 14, 2002.

I was tempted to say that, based on that picture, this incident is a golden opportunity to use the words "GW Bush" and "smarts" in the same sentence. But that would be low and mean of me.

Just remember, this has nothing to do with Bush's intelligence. Choking on a pretzel and falling off the couch could happen to any Yale graduate with an advanced degree from Harvard.


I said, right?

-- Little Nipper (canis@minor.net), January 14, 2002.

Right! Aspiration is highly correlated with stupidity.

I hear President Bush raises fainting goats on his ranchero.

-- (lars@indy.net), January 14, 2002.

Laura caught him drinking Wild Turkey and watching porno movies with his dogs, so she cold-cocked him upside the head.

-- Matt Sludge (Sludgereport @ We Got. All The Dirt), January 14, 2002.

No, Matt, I think you're wrong. My theory is that the vile Jeb persuaded his brother to bet hugely on the fish (supposedly on inside FL knowledge that he didn't really have). When W. realized he was screwed, he leaped up from the couch, his seething emotions a mix of horror at the money he was going to lose and indignation at his stupid brother. And it's a well-known scientic fact that indignation causes a huge rush of blood to the brain. A faint was the inevitable result. Now there's a theory that fits all the facts.

-- Peter Errington (petere7@starpower.net), January 14, 2002.

Our latest news is that Babs Bush is flying out to the White House with Dubya's little silver spoon. He wants Mommy to hand-feed him his meals, just like she did when he was "jus a lil' whipper-snapper".

-- (hang in there wittle dubby-wubby @ momma's. comin), January 14, 2002.

Can't wait to see Saturday Night Live. Boy are they gonna have fun with this!

-- (hee hee hee @ haw. haw haw), January 14, 2002.

Best picture yet. What looked like a left cheek strawberry in other pics now looks like a bruise. This guy needs some Bioflavinoids! How bout the strawberry on his RIGHT cheek? Tough to do both in one crash.

-- Carlos (riffraff1@cybertime.net), January 15, 2002.

Dubya and Ashcroft got into an argument about how the hell they were going to cover up their involvement in the Enron scandal. Aschroft told Dubya there was no way he was going to put his own ass in the spotlight to save Dubya and the rest of his crooked bastard friends. Dubya got bossy and started barking orders at Ashcroft, so Ashcroft put him in his place by knocking him down for the count.

-- Matt Sludge (Sludgereport @ We got. the latest dirt), January 15, 2002.


Dubya needs to get one of those t-shirts, the ones that say...

I don't have a drinking problem.

I drink...

I get drunk...

I fall down...

No problem!

-- bwaahahaaa! (dumbya@the.scumbag), January 15, 2002.

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