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International royals

Japan’s Empress Michiko diagnosed with heart trouble

Despite confirmation of heart trouble, Empress Michiko along with her husband, Emperor Akihito will attend the national memorial war service honouring those killed in World War II that is to be held on Saturday. This service is to commemorate those lost during the war on the 70th anniversary of its end. Along with attending the memorial, this week, Empress Michiko will also meet with a foreign ambassador, visit a museum and enjoy a concert.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Clinton visits Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace during 2011 to Tokyo.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Clinton visits Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace during 2011 to Tokyo.

This health scare hasn’t stopped the Empress from holding up her royal duties. She serves as the Honourary President of the Japanese Red Cross Society. Last week, on 5 August she handed out medals to two distinguished nurses at the Florence Nightingale medal awards ceremony in Tokyo.

Last Sunday, the 80-year-old Empress was diagnosed with myocardial ischemia, a condition common in the elderly or those under significant stress. Since late June, the Empress has experienced chest pains that have increased over time. The pains grew in frequency, from a few times per week to occurring several times each day. This heart condition occurs when heart vessels are temporarily blocked. If not treated, the patient can suffer a heart attack. Those who receive this diagnosis are advised to refrain from activities that can raise their heart rates and stress levels.

An electrocardiogram performed last month on the elderly Empress revealed evidence of possible heart disease. Doctors decided on a more thorough examination and tests conducted. At the University of Tokyo Hospital, she underwent a coronary computed tomography scan. The results found she was suffering from inadequate blood flow to parts of her heart muscle through the coronary arteries. The scan showed narrowing of two of the three coronary arteries. However, officials say these results are unrelated to her chest pains.

Her condition isn’t severe enough to warrant surgery. If her symptoms worsen, she will be given medication. In 2011, the Emperor was experiencing similar symptoms. The following year, bypass surgery was performed after his diagnosis of angina.

Photo Credit: State Hubs via Flickr