Blood on brain, rest ordered for Argentine leader

Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Doctors ordered a month's rest for Argentina's president on Saturday after they found blood on her brain due to a head injury.

President Cristina Fernandez's spokesman said she had suffered a previously undisclosed "skull trauma" on Aug. 12. No details about this injury were officially released Saturday night.

Spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro read a statement signed by the president's doctors saying they did a CAT scan of her brain after the August head injury and found nothing wrong, and that afterward she suffered no symptoms.

But he said problems surfaced Saturday after Fernandez, 60, went to a hospital for checks on an irregular heartbeat. Because she was suffering headaches, they looked at her skull again, too, and found a subdural hematoma. That means bleeding between the brain and the skull. The statement defined it as "chronic" and not "acute," which suggests that it has been slowly building.

"The president had a cardiovascular study done in the Fundacion Favaloro and given that she had head pain, they did neurological studies, diagnosing a 'chronic subdural collection' (bleeding on the brain), and they ordered her to rest for a month," said the statement, which was signed by the president's doctors. The statement added that her doctors will keep close watch on how the bleeding evolves using imaging technology.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the symptoms of chronic subdural collections usually do not heal by themselves and often require surgery that involves drilling small holes in the skull to drain the liquid, relieving pressure and to reduce or prevent brain damage.

Her spokesman did not address during his televised announcement whether Fernandez will try to keep managing the country herself from the presidential residence, or formally take medical leave and hand the government over to Vice President Amado Boudou, who was flying back to Argentina from Brazil Saturday night.

It's a hard time for Fernandez, a tireless campaigner, to disappear from Argentina's political scene. Aug. 12 was one day after primary elections in which her opponents made significant gains. With the latest doctors' orders, she won't be able to campaign for her allies ahead of key congressional midterm elections on Oct. 27 that will determine whether the ruling Front for Victory party holds onto enough seats to enable her to continue ruling with virtually unchecked power.

In January of 2012, Fernandez had her thyroid glands removed fearing that they were cancerous, but tests later showed no presence of cancerous cells. She also suffers from chronic hypertension, and has periodically had to take several days rest.

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