Former president Václav Havel in hospital

Václav Havel

The former Czech president Václav Havel was admitted to hospital over the weekend with chronic bronchitis and a heart problem. Although his private secretary was quick to reassure the public that his condition was not serious and that Mr. Havel simply needed to get some rest, latest reports suggest that the popular former head of state may need more intensive treatment.

The news that Václav Havel had been admitted to hospital broke late on Sunday morning when he failed to turn up for a televised debate. The country’s national broadcaster Czech Television reported that the former president had been admitted to hospital on Saturday night after complaining of heart arrhythmia or irregular heart beat. The media was not informed which hospital he was in at the time – but Mr. Havel sent the public a reassuring message via his private secretary saying he felt much better and hoped to attend the premiere of a new documentary about him called Citizen Havel.

On Monday it emerged that Mr. Havel was being treated at Prague’s Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine and that his treatment would take longer than originally thought. The head of the cardio-centre Prof. Jan Pirk said Mr. Havel would need to spend two weeks in hospital – at the minimum. “First we need to treat his chronic bronchitis which has flared up rather badly – causing the heart arrhythmia – and when we have that under control we shall consider what to do about his heart problem,” the professor told reporters. This will necessitate further tests and a team of cardio experts will then decide whether the Mr. Havel’s heart condition can be improved by medication or whether it needs a cardio-stimulator, which would require minor surgery.

There have so far been no press briefings and people around the former president have asked the media to give him the necessary time and space to recover. If all goes well he might be released from hospital for a few hours to attend the premiere of Citizen Havel and he is allegedly hoping to be well enough to enjoy his wife’s stage premiere on February 11th. She is starring in a new adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s play The Cherry Orchard at Na Vinohradech theatre in Prague.