WASHINGTON -- So after all the fuss and concern about his irregular heartbeat last weekend, it's only a "thyroid thing," said a relieved and elated President Bush, who is looking forward to a speedy cure and return to his full regime of physical activities.
"I think it's going to be all right," Mr. Bush told reporters after learning Tuesday night that his heart flutter was set off by an overactive thyroid that can be easily treated.
The president had another brief bout of atrial fibrillation Tuesday evening that was registered by the portable heart monitor he now wears full time, but his heart rhythm returned to normal within a few minutes, the White House said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush has now begun to take an anti-coagulant drug, Coumadin (warfarin), to guard against blood clots, which may occur when heart chambers beat out of sync with each other. He is also continuing to take two other medications to prevent recurrence of the rhythm disorder until the thyroid problem can be resolved.
Mr. Bush returned to Bethesda Naval Medical Center early yesterdayto begin the first round of tests to determine what form of treatment should be applied for his hyperthyroidism.
During the 15-minute visit, he drank a glass of radioactive iodine in preparation for a thyroid scan scheduled for this morning, when the rest of the diagnostic tests will also be completed, said White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater.
News of the president's thyroid condition was greeted with joy at the White House, where it had earlier been feared that Mr. Bush might have a lifelong problem with his heart following the shortness of breath and fatigue he experienced while jogging Saturday afternoon.
It now appears that the incident will have no lasting effect once the thyroid problem is cured, probably with medication.
Mr. Bush said his doctors have asked him to "check it a little bit, in terms of athletics," but only for the next few days. The doctors also have imposed a temporary ban on alcohol, the White House said.
However, the president has given up caffeine more or less permanently at the request of his wife, Barbara, who fears that the stimulant may have helped push his heartbeat into its rapid pace.