Emperor to undergo heart tests

Kyodo

Emperor Akihito will undergo a coronary artery test Feb. 11 after an electrocardiogram showed a minor problem in blood supply to the heart when he was engaged in light exercise, the Imperial Household Agency said Wednesday.

The 78-year-old Emperor underwent a similar coronary angiography test at the University of Tokyo Hospital last February after showing symptoms of cardiac ischemia. He was diagnosed with arteriosclerosis at the time and received medication.

The agency said there would be no change in the Emperor’s official schedule and he will go ahead with a retreat with Empress Michiko to their villa in Kanagawa Prefecture from Thursday through Tuesday as planned.

Since the diagnosis of arteriosclerosis, his doctors have conducted electrocardiogram and other checks over the past year to monitor his condition.

The Emperor, who ascended the throne in 1989, has had a series of health problems in recent years, including undergoing treatment for prostate cancer in 2003. In November he was hospitalized for more than two weeks for bronchial pneumonia.

Prince Akishino, the Emperor’s second son, surprised the public in November by suggesting a retirement system may be necessary once emperors reach a certain age.