MANILA, MAY 2, 2007 (STAR) By Perseus Echeminada - A visibly weak First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo walked out of the hospital yesterday morning with daughter Luli by his side, three weeks after he underwent open-heart surgery.

The 60-year-old Mr. Arroyo has been told to slow down and change his high-profile lifestyle, his main attending physician Dr. Juliet Cervantes said.

Cervantes said the First Gentleman would have to learn how to "manage his stress."

"I’m okay, thank you, thank you," the First Gentleman, clad in a blue shirt, jogging pants and rubber shoes, told reporters as he leisurely waved at them as he emerged with his doctors at the lobby of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City at about 10:15 a.m.

He then boarded a white Toyota Prado that brought him back to Malacañang.

On his doctor’s advice, the First Gentleman needs to continue his therapy, stay on a low-fat diet and avoid stress.

"Any sudden burst of emotion can increase blood pressure but hopefully he would be able to adjust to his new lifestyle," Cervantes said.

She warned that discussions about libel cases he had filed in the courts over his alleged involvement in illicit activities as well as issues about the May 14 elections might cause undue stress on him. The doctor said they have advised Mr. Arroyo on how to cope with such situations.

She also said there appeared to be no complications from the operation to correct an aortic aneurysm.

The medical team who attended to Mr. Arroyo from his operation to rehabilitation is composed of Cervantes and doctors Nancy Chio, Millie Luque and Dennis Natino. They said Mr. Arroyo must come back every two days for his cardiac rehabilitation session, which includes treadmill exercises.

Several more weeks of this are needed for his full recovery, Cervantes said.

Mr. Arroyo, who during his confinement has lost at least 10 pounds, was also told to regulate his diet and avoid high-cholesterol and fatty food.

"We are very happy that the operation was successful," Cervantes said. "He must eat a lot of fruits for the healing process of his wound and he will also have to take his medication."

She said Mr. Arroyo has been following their advice, particularly on stress management.

Before his release, the First Gentleman and President Arroyo attended the early morning Mass and took their breakfast at the hospital before Mrs. Arroyo left for an official function at about 10 a.m.

Cervantes said they are happy that the recovery period is on schedule. The First Gentleman was originally set to leave the other week but it was postponed after he developed fever Friday night.

The hospital has been treating an average of one patient a month with the same illness as the First Gentleman’s.

Their record shows a 90 to 95 percent success rate in both operation and recovery. – Perseus Echeminada, AFP

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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