Routine operation but more evidence of heart trouble

Tony Blair will undergo a catheter ablation operation which will correct his heart's abnormal rhythm - a condition the Prime Minister has suffered from in the past.

The operation, performed under local anaesthetic, involves inserting a catheter through a vein in the groin. The catheter is then threaded to the heart, where heat is used to destroy short circuits that cause the irregular beats.

On 19 October 2003, the Prime Minister was taken ill at Chequers with the first known occurrence of the condition. He was taken to Hammersmith Hospital in west London where he was given cardioversion, an electric shock which jolts the heart back to a normal rhythm.

Downing Street described his condition at the time as paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) - where the heart beats at twice the normal speed. This is regarded as a serious condition and though frightening, patients can recover from it and never have another attack.

Doctors are likely to do no more than recommend cutting down on tea and coffee and taking life more easily.

Aides insisted that Mr Blair's appetite for the job was undiminished and there was no reason for the condition to recur. Doctors advised that SVT happens to healthy people and once treated, it was compatible with a completely normal quality and quantity of life.

But specialists pointed out that cardioversion was not the usual treatment for SVT and suggested the Prime Minister was more likely to be suffering from atrial fibrillation. The condition has now recurred making today's second bout of treatment necessary.

The disclosure by Bill Clinton, former US president, that he had "known for years" about the Tony Blair's cardiac arrhythmia was regarded as highly embarrassing by Downing Street.

At 50, Mr Blair is considered young to require treatment for a heart condition. Most men who undergo this treatment are in their 60s and 70s or older. The Prime Minister retained his boyish looks for longer than is usual and has taken care of himself during his years in No 10 with regular sessions in his private gym.

He doesn't smoke, drinks moderately, eats healthily and is not overweight. One factor that may have made him prone to the problem is his genetic inheritance. His father Leo Blair suffered a near fatal stroke at the exceptionally young age of 39.

What must also be on his mind as he prepares for this operation is that it was a heart attack which carried off his predecessor John Smith, the former Labour leader, creating the opening which he took.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

    £35-45K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer / Web ...

    Recruitment Genius: Full Time and Part Time Digital Designer - North Kent

    £20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful web design/deve...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders