Schaefer walks from hospital No heart problem indicated by pains


ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer left the cardiac unit of Johns Hopkins Hospital yesterday in good spirits after doctors found no evidence that the dull chest pains he had been feeling stemmed from a heart problem or any other serious ailment.

During his 24-hour stay, doctors performed numerous tests and ruled out the possibility of a heart attack or any underlying heart ailments that could predispose him to one, said Dr. James D'Orta, a personal friend who accompanied the governor to and from the hospital.

"There was absolutely no damage to his heart," Dr. D'Orta said at a State House news briefing after a limousine dropped Mr. Schaefer at the governor's mansion. "He left with a clean bill of health. When you go to the physician's office and these things are ruled out, it's like a big weight being lifted."

Mr. Schaefer's diagnosis was "atypical chest pain" -- pain unrelated to any serious or life-threatening illness.

Mr. Schaefer walked out the main entrance of Johns Hopkins Hospital about 2:45 p.m. and stepped into a limousine. After the car traveled a short distance, the governor got out to show waiting reporters and photographers that he was in good health.

The wind blowing in his hair, Mr. Schaefer said: "I'm real glad they found nothing." He said he "wouldn't have been playing fair with the people of Maryland" if he had not checked out the possibility of a serious problem.

After arriving at the governor's mansion, he said doctors "did every kind of test" and found nothing.

Dr. D'Orta said he recommended Thursday that the governor check into Hopkins' cardiac unit for tests after his friend reported feeling mild discomfort in his chest.

Dr. D'Orta said he suggested that as a precaution, so doctors could begin treatment if anything was wrong.

Doctors did decide yesterday to change his daily medication for the moderate hypertension that was diagnosed about 10 years ago. But there was no evidence, Dr. D'Orta said, that the governor was suffering a flare-up or worsening of his high blood pressure.

Mr. Schaefer had been taking a diuretic, but was switched to a new type of drug known as a calcium channel blocker. Both medications relieve pressure on the heart and blood vessels -- diuretics by eliminating water from the bloodstream, and calcium blockers by relaxing the muscles.

He said doctors monitored his heart while he was resting, and while he was walking briskly and jogging on a treadmill. They ruled out not only a heart attack but also coronary artery disease or an abnormal heart rhythm.

The governor's attending physician there was Dr. Stephen Achuff, but he was also seen by residents and medical students, according to Dr. D'Orta, who said Mr. Schaefer insisted on being treated like any other patient.

An emergency room physician at Franklin Square Hospital, Dr. D'Orta said he was advising Mr. Schaefer because the two are friends but did not treat him at Hopkins.

Mr. Schaefer was not asked to limit his schedule -- in part, said Dr. D'Orta, because he feels most relaxed when he is working and most anxious when forced to rest.

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