Governor 'super fit' one year on from operation

GOVERNOR Chris Patten has continued to have hospital tests since his heart operation one year ago this week, but is now said to be super fit.

Doctors have been so impressed with the Governor's progress that they pushed his fitness tests beyond that expected of firemen, and he passed with flying colours.

There has been no recurrence of the coronary heart disease that required 21/2 hours of surgery in Queen Mary Hospital, and he has continued to stick to a strict low cholesterol diet under the watchful eye of wife Lavender.

Mr Patten has not, however, had to forego a daily tipple of his favourite wine, and is in fact under doctors' orders to do so.

Dr Stephen Lee, who was in charge of the operation and has continued to look after the Governor, said: ''I asked him to drink a little bit of wine or brandy daily.

''There are two kinds of cholesterol, basically, good and bad. A little alcohol can help elevate the good cholesterol.'' The operation, performed under local anaesthetic, involved the widening of two arteries.

Mr Patten came through the critical first three to six months after surgery without difficulty, but remains susceptible to a recurrence of the disease.

All heart operation patients remain at a higher risk of re-infection, either of the same area or of the corresponding area on the other side of the heart.

Since last February, Mr Patten has undergone three ''treadmill'' and electrocardiogram (ECG) tests. These involve running on a jogging machine at varying speeds, with electrodes connecting the patient's chest to the ECG.

The first test was done shortly after the operation, the second three months later, and the last one just a few months ago.

Each test was done on an informal basis with the Governor visiting the hospital out of office hours.

Dr Lee added: ''He has improved with every test. In the last one, he was able to complete the whole exercise to stage six, which is actually out-performing a fireman.

''He has scored very highly and his heart is now functioning perfectly normally.'' Mr Patten has also continued with a fairly strict exercise regimen, playing regular tennis and jogging.

According to a recent survey, the average cholesterol levels in Hong Kong people are higher than the accepted norm, with 22.1 per cent showing abnormally high levels.