Heart specialist: Yeltsin 'didn't look sick'
September 26, 1996
Web Posted at: 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT)
MOSCOW (CNN) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin appears
healthier than previously reported, is in good spirits and
can work as many as three or four hours a day, American heart
specialist Michael DeBakey said Thursday.
"He didn't look sick at all," said DeBakey, who conducted a
physical exam on Yeltsin this week. (14 sec./320K AIFF or WAV sound)
Top Russian heart specialists and DeBakey met Wednesday and
determined that Yeltsin, 65, would undergo a heart bypass
operation in about six to 10 weeks.
There had been fears Yeltsin was too weak for such surgery,
but DeBakey was more optimistic after meeting with the
"Contrary to the reports that I've heard about how ill he
was, I must tell you that when I saw him he looked very
good," DeBakey told CNN. "His demeanor was outgoing. He was
in a good humor." (9 sec./224K AIFF or WAV sound)
The American cardiologist said Yeltsin's liver and
kidney appeared normal, despite reports to the contrary.
Yeltsin can lead country, doctor says
DeBakey said he believed Yeltsin was capable of running the
nation while hospitalized awaiting surgery. Russia's
opposition has demanded that Yeltsin step down if he is too
ill to govern.
"I told him that as far as I was concerned he could do three
to four hours of work a day, but he would have to do it" from
the hospital while doctors conduct further tests, DeBakey
One reason for the operation's postponement is that Yeltsin
suffered significant blood loss in recent days from what
DeBakey called "probably a stress ulcer."
Doctors will have to determine exactly what caused the loss
of blood before they carry out the surgery. "We wouldn't
want anything to happen during the operation that might, in a
sense, repeat this occurrence," he said.
A thyroid dysfunction also needs to be stabilized before the
operation, DeBakey said.
Nonetheless, he predicted the surgery would go well and that
after the operation Yeltsin "should be able to do almost
anything he wants to do."
Currently, the surgery carries about a 4 to 5 percent
chance of failure, DeBakey said.
DeBakey, 88, will not participate in the triple or
quadruple bypass operation, but he plans to return to Moscow
to advise the surgeons about the procedure.
In a bypass operation, blood vessels are taken from the leg
or chest and grafted to the heart muscle to improve blood
flow by bypassing clogged arteries.
Under the Russian constitution, if Yeltsin were to die or
become incapacitated, the prime minister would take over and
call a presidential election in three months.
- Yeltsin surgery delayed at least 6 weeks
- September 25, 1996
- Yeltsin's illness sparks Kremlin intrigue - September 24, 1996
- Yeltsin to meet doctors, discuss surgery date - September 24, 1996
- Russian stocks tumble amid Yeltsin's health concerns - September 23, 1996
- U.S. heart surgeon in Moscow to examine Yeltsin
- September 23, 1996
- Doctors may postpone Yeltsin's surgery - September 22, 1996
- Yeltsin's health problems cloud Russia's future - September 21, 1996
- Yeltsin had heart attack during Russian elections - September 21, 1996
faces more tests, longer hospital stay - September 20, 1996
remains hospitalized for more tests - September 17, 1996
- Yeltsin may hand power to premier during surgery - September
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