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No Heart Disease for Rush Limbaugh

Radio host says there is nothing wrong with U.S. hospitals.

ByABC News
December 31, 2009, 7:11 AM

Jan. 1, 2010— -- Rush Limbaugh ended his unaccustomed silence and announced today that medical tests have revealed "no heart disease whatsoever" and that he is doing fine.

He was discharged from the hospital on Friday morning local time, according to a statement released by Limbaugh's show.

Limbaugh, who made no public statements during his two days in the hospital, added that he is "grateful that this happened as it did."

Limbaugh was admitted to Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu on Wednesday afternoon after he experienced chest pains while vacationing in Hawaii. According to Limbaugh, doctors could not determine the exact cause of his pain.

The right-wing talk radio king used the moment for a political shot at President Obama's massive effort to reform health care, saying he got the best medical care "right here in the United States of America."

"I don't think there's one thing wrong with the United States health system," he said.

Cardiologists not involved in the case said that while questions about the underlying cause of Limbaugh's pain remain, the test results are good news for the 58-year-old radio show host.

According to Limbaugh, among these tests was an imaging procedure known as an angiogram -- what doctors consider to be the "gold standard" when it comes to detecting blocked arteries in the heart.

Dr. Richard Page, chair of medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and president of the Heart Rhythm Society, said that a clear angiogram would allow doctors to conclude that the chest pain that Limbaugh experienced was most likely not from a heart attack.

"This is certainly reassuring in terms of his prognosis," Page said, adding that the results of the test and the others that likely were performed would usually only be available within 12 to 24 hours after they were conducted.

But despite the good news from the test results, cardiology experts said the episode should serve as a red flag to Limbaugh to ensure that he is living a heart-healthy lifestyle -- particularly because doctors treated his case with the real possibility of a major heart problem in mind.

"The right message here is that Mr. Limbaugh has had a wake-up call," said Dr. Clyde Yancy, president of the American Heart Association. "Nobody is out of the woods just because they've had a negative angiogram."

Dr. Deepak Bhatt, chief of cardiology for the VA Boston Healthcare System, agreed Limbaugh would do well to view the episode as a reminder to practice healthy lifestyle habits.

"The future risk of a heart attack is low given the findings on the angiogram, but certainly not zero," Bhatt said. "So, it would still be important to control risk factors; otherwise, more significant plaque could build up over time and cause problems down the road."

Dr. Douglas Zipes, editor-in-chief of the journal HeartRhythm, agreed.

"Is he out of the woods? For a major [heart attack], probably, for now," Zipes said. "But not necessarily for future heart risk, since he could have minimal obstructions not seen that could 'blossom' in the future without proper risk modification."

And Dr. Harlan Krumholz, cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., said that while the tests were good news, the results could not be used to completely rule out heart disease.

"The story on clean coronaries is a little more complicated, as some people can have ischemic heart disease -- decreased blood flow to the heart muscle -- even with no blockages in the arteries that are seen on the angiogram," he said.