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Dizziness puts Ford in hospital overnight

By Associated Press,
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 18, 2003

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Former President Ford was feeling "quite well" Saturday and would likely be released from a hospital where he spent the night after becoming dizzy while playing golf in hot weather, his doctor said.

"He's perfectly stable, he's responding to treatment and he has no complaints physically," said Dr. Alan Kiselstein, the ex-president's doctor of 15 years.

The 89-year-old president had experienced episodes of lightheadedness associated with changes in his blood pressure for several days before he came to Eisenhower Medical Center, Kiselstein said.

"The particular causes of these episodes are multiple, complex and interactive. None of them appear life-threatening. They are rather more related to the aging process," Kiselstein said.

The nation's 38th president had a particularly severe episode of lightheadedness while playing golf in 96-degree temperatures Friday. He left the hospital that night, but the dizziness persisted and he returned.

Kiselstein said doctors were adjusting Ford's medication and that he would probably be released later Saturday. The doctor declined to name the medications.

"He's doing great, not a problem, and I have been trying to convey that to everyone since yesterday, that he's really okay," Ford spokeswoman Penny Circle said Saturday.

Officials at Eisenhower Medical Center had released few details on Ford's condition before Saturday's press conference.

Since April 14, hospitals have had to comply with revised patient privacy standards contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

The federal regulations allow a hospital to disclose the name, location and general condition of a patient under its care only in response to requests, including from the media, that identify the patient by name. However, a patient can request that information not be disclosed.

Ford suffered a mild stroke in August 2000 when he was in Philadelphia to attend the Republican National Convention.

Ford is the nation's only president never elected to that office or the vice presidency. President Nixon chose him as vice president to replace Spiro Agnew, who was forced from office by scandal.

Ford, a Michigan Republican, then took office as president minutes after Nixon resigned and flew off into exile following the Watergate crisis.

He declared "our long national nightmare is over" but revived the debate a month later by granting Nixon a pardon for all crimes he committed as president. That single act, it was widely believed, cost Ford election to a term of his own in 1976.

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