Emperor ‘generally healthy’ two years after heart operation

Kyodo

Emperor Akihito has marked two years since his coronary-artery bypass surgery, with doctors describing him as “generally healthy,” the Imperial Household Agency said.

The Emperor, who turned 80 in December, also has osteoporosis, but its progression has stopped, according to the doctors serving the Imperial household. With anxiety over his heart conditions lessened, he can now exercise, which has a positive effect on his osteoporosis, they said.

The Emperor developed osteoporosis due to the effects of hormone therapy that followed his 2003 surgery to treat prostate cancer. The latest examination showed that the condition, which causes brittle bones, has not progressed.

Because doctors did not observe any abnormality in his heart, they determined that no major changes would be necessary for his public duties for the year.

Before undergoing heart surgery, the Emperor was concerned about a possible heart attack and refrained from exercise, according to a source close to the agency. However, after finishing rehabilitation following the surgery, he now plays tennis on the weekends and walks every morning.

In addition to exercise therapy, eating meals designed to increase bone density may have helped to halt the progression of osteoporosis.

After an examination in February 2011 found hardening and narrowing of coronary arteries, he underwent surgery on Feb. 18, 2012, at the University of Tokyo Hospital by a joint team of doctors from the University of Tokyo and Juntendo University.

The Emperor left the hospital March 4 that year and attended the official memorial service marking the first anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters.

On Monday, Empress Michiko attended a charity concert marking the 35th anniversary of the founding of the nonprofit group Association for Aid and Relief, Japan, held in Suntory Hall in Tokyo. The concert included a performance of Beethoven’s “Emperor” piano concerto featuring pianist Hiroko Nakamura.

The group supports refugees affected by conflicts and natural disasters. Proceeds from the latest concert will be used for measures to remove land mines and dud bombs.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Empress was friends with the organization’s late founder, Yukika Soma. The Empress has been to 12 charity concerts so far, including one last year benefiting reconstruction from the 2011 disasters.