PM’s heart scare understated

Tony Blair’s heart condition last autumn was more serious than Downing Street acknowledged, a former government minister said yesterday.

Mr Blair was admitted to hospital in October suffering from a rapid, irregular heartbeat.

He spent five hours in hospital recuperating after electric-shock treatment.

Downing Street said the ailment was a fairly common problem and easily treated.

Mr Blair said at the time the minor problem came about through drinking too much strong coffee.

But Dr Lewis Moonie, former armed forces minister, speaking on a BBC2 documentary on the health of prime ministers called The Downing Street Patient, said he had suffered from the same condition and the treatment was more serious than Number 10’s spin on it.

“There was an attempt to suggest the procedure carried out was a minor one,” Dr Moonie said.

“It was not. Anaesthetising somebody and giving their heart electric shocks is not something you just do in the routine run of medical practice.”

Dr Moonie said Downing Street should have come clean about the serious condition.

Anyone with “the slightest knowledge of medical procedure” knew it was not a minor condition, he said.

Dr Moonie said he was “terrified” when he found out he had the condition, adding it was a very frightening experience even for a medical doctor.