Oct 13, 2012

Philippines - Former Philippine president has heart ailment, admitted to ICU

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Former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is under intensive care at Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) after she was found to have heart problems, the military hospital’s top official said Friday.

Dr. Nona Legaspi, VMMC director, told a press briefing that Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, was placed under intensive care at 3pm Friday.

Arroyo was accompanied by her daughter Luli, when she was taken to the intensive care unit (ICU), according to lawyer Raul Lambino.

Lambino, who also saw Arroyo at the ICU, said the former President was awake and they exchanged “hi and hello”.

Lambino also said a petition was filed in the Sandiganbayan to defer the arraignment of Arroyo on Monday.

“The filing came before the decision of VMMC doctors to bring her to the ICU due to a heart disease and we could not be accused of making up her sickness,” Lambino said.

Former first gentleman Mike Arroyo has been monitoring the health of his wife, according to his lawyer, Ferdie Topacio.

“FG (first gentleman) is set to see her today (Friday),” Topacio added.

Arroyo went through electrocardiogram tests on Wednesday and Thursday and the results showed she was suffering from coronary ischemia, or diminished blood flow to the heart.

“We have to monitor her constantly at the ICU, which has doctors and nurses 24/7,” Legaspi said.

Under such a condition, Arroyo, who is facing nonbailable charges of plunder in the graft court Sandiganbayan for the alleged misuse of P356 million in lottery intelligence funds from 2008 to 2010, is likely to be under hospital arrest.

The court has ordered her arrested, but deferred ruling on where to hold her until her doctors can determine the true state of her health.

Arroyo had been held  at  VMMC until July, when a Pasay City court allowed her to post bail for  an electoral sabotage case brought against her by the Commission on Elections  and the Department of Justice in November last year.

She was readmitted in the hospital on Thursday last week, suffering from pains and numbness caused by a rare spine ailment.


As of Friday, Legaspi said, doctors assumed that the ischemia was caused by a possible blockage or metabolic processes.

“We are assuming that it is a blockage, this is why we are acting with urgency and not with complacency. You cannot leave her alone like that,” Legaspi said.

Legaspi could not say if Arroyo would be able to attend her arraignment in the Sandiganbayan on Monday.

Arroyo remained hooked to an intravenous drip yesterday as treatment for hypokalemia, or low serum potassium levels in the blood, which Legaspi said was vital to the body’s overall wellness.

Earlier this week, Arroyo complained of chest pains, prompting her doctors to put her through ECG tests.

The results showed the ischemia and left ventricular enlargement, which Legaspi said was an effect of hypertension.

Legaspi said Arroyo’s ischemia could have been caused by intense stress.

Arroyo will go through blood enzyme tests, 2D echo and stress 2D echo tests in the coming days, Legaspi said.

The 2D echo and stress 2D echo tests will be carried out in another hospital, possibly the Philippine Heart Center, Legaspi said.

Permission from the Sandiganbayan will be needed for Arroyo’s trip to take the tests, Legaspi said.

Doctors will continue to examine Arroyo to determine what is really causing the ischemia, Legaspi said.

Left untreated, coronary ischemia could lead to a heart attack, she added.

Very thin

Legaspi said Arroyo was “very thin,” probably caused by dehydration, which had been remedied.

Policemen guard the VMMC intensive care unit to secure Arroyo.
If she would be moved to a regular jail, Legaspi said the detention center should have hospital equipment for monitoring the former President’s condition.

Nancy C. Carvajal
Philippine Daily Inquirer

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