Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

Can Anastasiades really resume his duties?

President Nicos Anastasiades arriving in New York last weekend

By Hermes Solomon

FORMULA One racing drivers are known to be among the fittest of men in the world of sport, blessed with lightening reflexes and superhuman stamina. Winners earn millions and are worshipped by spectators.

Presidents of ‘democratic’ republics earn peanuts by comparison and are despised by much of the electorate, yet require outstanding mental agility, eloquence and the stamina of any Formula One driver.

Should presidential candidates undergo full and detailed health checks ahead of standing at elections? If elected, should regular health checks be obligatory and the results broadcast? Should there be an age limit for ‘men in power’ like there is for factory workers, who are retired off between the age of 60 and 65?

Signs and symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation, which depend on its severity and how quickly the condition develops, can include blood flowing turbulently through the heart (heart murmur), shortness of breath after exertion or when lying down, fatigue during times of increased activity or stress, a cough at night, heart palpitations and swollen feet or ankles.

Mitral regurgitation is often mild and progresses slowly. It can have no symptoms for decades and our president might only have become aware of his heart condition recently; his doctor will first have suspected mitral regurgitation upon detecting a heart murmur.

The president evidently experienced a sudden onset of severe symptoms or he would not have been rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where he received the finest treatment on offer in the world today.

Mitral valve replacement/corrective or repair surgery is the only option for mitral valve regurgitation and/or mitral valve stenosis, which can be caused by hardening or narrowing of the arteries due to high cholesterol, smoking and high alcohol intake.

Minimal invasive surgery (laparoscopic) was the chosen option as recovery times are considerably shorter than open-heart, and he is an exceptionally ‘busy man’.

Recovery includes healing of the surgical incision/s, gradually building physical endurance and exercising.

At first he may notice that he gets tired easily and needs to rest often. Given his 68 years it may take more than two months for him to recover fully.

While convalescing, it is important to eat heart-healthy foods, get regular exercise, not consume excessive amounts of alcohol or smoke at all, take heart medicines and reduce stress to an absolute minimum. His doctor may recommend he works with a nurse, a dietician and a physical therapist for the first couple of months to help him adapt to essential lifestyle changes.

Slowly but surely his life should largely return to normal. He should no longer suffer shortness of breath and fatigue. But if his heart was already severely affected before surgery, he may continue to have complications of heart disease.

The president’s condition will require constant monitoring for symptoms of blood clots and infections. He will take an anticoagulant (blood thinner) for the rest of his life to help prevent clots and will undergo regular post-op check-ups at the American Heart Hospital in Nicosia indefinitely.

We are told by government spokesman, Nicos Christodoulides that the president should be able to resume most of his normal activities around Christmas. And if you believe that you’ve never undergone major surgery.

Errors of judgement and confusion under stress are commonplace in the unwell, and our president can be accused of his fair share of fumbling ever since coming to office.

Former presidents, Tassos Papadopoulos and Demetris Christofias both suffered from major health problems during their terms.

On the present president’s eventual return home, should he be put out to grass? His errors of judgement on the bail-in, his pointless Barbaros invective and worthless predictions of an upturn in the economy indicate he might never have been on song health-wise from the day he was elected.

Most of us grow old and enjoy what’s left while enduring a worsening state of health.

I am a little older than he and am now incapable of washing a car never mind running the ‘Cyprus Circus’.

After major surgery, which noticeably ‘quietens’ the patient through fear, anxiety and dreaded perpetual uncertainty, will he become docile, apathetic and ineffective like those other ‘old dears’ we pay to sit around the national council table, or will he return to making rash and impetuous decisions?

He might even recommend we buy Bank of Cyprus shares to save Cyprus. But I’ve watched Hellenic Bank’s share fall from 12 to below 4 cents this past year without any government spokesmen or other official telling us why. So will those spokesmen ever tell us the whole truth about the president’s real state of health?

I can see George Lillikas and Nicolas Papadopoulos already rubbing their hands, keeping a keen eye on Marios Garoyian, and more particularly, Averof Neophytou growing daily in stature in the ‘doll’s madhouse’!

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