The French president Nicolas Sarkozy was rushed to hospital today after suffering a "minor" nervous complaint while jogging at his woodland weekend retreat outside Paris, officials said. The 54-year-old leader was seen immediately by a doctor and underwent medical tests, a statement from the Elysee Palace said. Mr Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was at his side, a senior official added. One of the president's aides said Mr Sarkozy was taken to the Val de Grace military hospital, after a problem related to his vagus nerve - which helps the body regulate its heart rate - that doctors "considered minor".
A condition known as vasovagal syncope can bring on a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure - particularly if the victim is dehydrated. Patients normally make a complete recovery, medical sources said. Mr Sarkozy was jogging as a sun-drenched Paris prepared to welcome the final stage of the Tour de France bicycle race amid high humidity and temperatures of up to 28°C. A witness, speaking on condition of anonymity, said she had seen a jogger surrounded by bodyguards suddenly stumble and collapse in the wooded grounds of La Lanterne, Mr Sarkozy's weekend home near the Palace of Versailles.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Sarkozy's wife arrived at the scene on a motor scooter, the witness said. Then two helicopters - one of them white - landed nearby. The white helicopter took off shortly afterwards, but the witness was unable to see who was on board. The Val de Grace military hospital, a short flight away in Paris proper, traditionally treats heads of state. Mr Sarkozy, who assumed the French presidency in May 2007, is a fitness enthusiast, and is often seen jogging or cycling with aides and bodyguards.
Just over three weeks ago, the Elysee Palace released the findings of Mr Sarkozy's latest annual health check-up, describing the results of recent blood and heart tests as "normal". No further details were provided. During his election campaign, Sarkozy pledged to publish regular health bulletins. So far the Elysee has published one full health report, five days after the president was sworn in, saying he was fit to hold office.
Mr Sarkozy was briefly hospitalised in October 2007 for minor throat surgery, but the presidency did not publicise the fact until January 2008. His office said afterwards that the Elysee would publish health bulletins on a yearly basis, but none was released in 2008. *AFP