National

Empress Emerita Michiko to undergo heart exam

Kyodo

Empress Emerita Michiko will undergo a heart exam after a blood test earlier this week showed a higher risk of heart failure, the Imperial Household Agency said Friday.

The 84-year-old former empress has experienced shortness of breath more frequently during her morning walks since the beginning of this year. She will undergo further tests at the Imperial Household Hospital, according to the agency.

In August 2015, the former empress had a computed tomography scan of her coronary arteries at the University of Tokyo Hospital after suffering from frequent chest pains.

She was later diagnosed with myocardial ischemia, a condition in which there is insufficient blood flow to some parts of the heart, but was told no surgery was needed.

Although the obstruction of a blood vessel in myocardial ischemia can occur temporarily due to stress or aging, it can also be evidence of more serious heart disease.

The agency said it has carefully monitored her condition, and the empress emerita abstains from intense physical exercise and avoids stressful situations.

Emperor Emeritus Akihito, 85, underwent coronary-artery heart bypass surgery in 2012 after developing symptoms similar to his wife’s and being diagnosed with angina.

Since he abdicated in late April, the imperial couple have retired from all official duties and have been leading a quiet life. On May 24, they attended a piano concert in Tokyo directed by renowned conductor Seiji Ozawa, the agency said.

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