- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2002

President Bush fainted yesterday at the White House after choking on a pretzel, slightly injuring his face and bending his glasses as he fell to the floor and remained unconscious for at least several seconds.
Mr. Bush, who was watching a televised football game by himself at his White House residence, said his dogs, Barney and Spot, "were looking at him funny" when he "came to," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
The president was examined by a White House doctor who concluded he had not suffered a concussion or other serious injury, Mr. Fleischer said. Mr. Bush was not hospitalized and no further medical tests were planned last night.
Although the president said he was suffering from "a little bug" yesterday, his spirits were high and he intended to go ahead with plans to travel to New Orleans today.
The episode occurred at 5:35 p.m. as Mr. Bush sat on a couch, watching a televised National Football League playoff game between Baltimore and Miami.
"He was watching the Dolphins-Ravens game, which could make anybody faint," Mr. Fleischer quipped. "He was eating a pretzel and the pretzel didn't go down right and he fainted.
"He was out for what he believes were a few seconds," the spokesman added. "By the way, the reason he thinks it was a few seconds was he said that Barney and Spot were in the same spot when he came to as when he was sitting on the couch except that they were looking at him funny.
"He woke up and called the nurse," Mr. Fleischer said. "Mrs. Bush was reading in another room and he called her as well."
The nurse evaluated Mr. Bush on the spot and the two of them then walked to an elevator and headed downstairs to the office of Dr. Richard J. Tubb, an Air Force colonel who serves as the White House physician. Dr. Tubb, whose office is directly across from the elevator, examined the president.
"He did a series of evaluations to rule out what could have caused this," Mr. Fleischer explained. "He indicated that the cardiopulmonary, neurologic and laboratory exams came back normal.
"The doctor has concluded that he fainted due to a temporarily decreased heart rate brought on by eating a pretzel that didn't go down right," Mr. Fleischer explained. "The medical term for it is neurally mediated vasovagal syncope."
Mr. Fleischer said the president's unusually low heart rate might have been a contributing factor.
"The reason for that is if you have what people refer to as a runner's heart that's a low heart rate when something like this happens, if you're feeling faint or you're faint, the way Dr. Tubb explained this, is either your heart speeds up or your head comes down to the level of your heart," Mr. Fleischer said. "In other words, gravity takes control. And that's what happened in this case he fainted."
Asked by The Washington Times whether anything like this had ever happened to Mr. Bush before, Mr Fleischer said he didn't know.
"He has an ugly scrape on his left cheekbone that's the size of a half dollar and a bruise on the lower lip which was likely caused by either the floor or the table or his glasses," the spokesman said. "His glasses might have cut him as well. They're a little bit bent."

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