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U.S. attorney general treated for elevated heart rate -statement

United States Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during the Human Rights Campaign's 13th annual Greater New York Gala in the Manhattan boro
United States Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during the Human Rights Campaign's 13th annual Greater New York Gala in the Manhattan boro

By David Ingram

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was treated for an elevated heart rate at a Washington, D.C., hospital on Thursday but later walked out of the hospital without needing assistance and was resting comfortably at home, his office said.

Holder, 63, the chief U.S. law enforcement official, felt lightheaded and short of breath during a morning staff meeting, according to a statement from his office.

He never lost consciousness, and stayed at the hospital for about three hours for tests.

Although he was given medication to restore his heart rate to a normal level, doctors ruled out the possibility he had a heart attack, a Justice Department official said.

"Several years ago, the attorney general experienced similar symptoms, but in a milder form that did not require serious medical attention," according to the statement.

Holder is an appointee of President Barack Obama and has been the head of the Justice Department since 2009. He served as the department's No. 2 official in the Clinton administration and was a corporate lawyer before he worked on Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president was being kept aware of Holder's condition.

Holder keeps an active schedule, including frequent travel, such as a trip this month to Sweden to speak about gay rights.

He often climbs stairs rather than ride an elevator to and from his fifth-floor Justice Department office, and was due to play basketball this weekend, the spokeswoman said.

Speaking at a legal conference in October, Holder boasted of his basketball skills and jokingly said that although he had never played with Obama, "he's from Hawaii. I'm from New York. You figure out who has the better game."

His immediate predecessor Michael Mukasey collapsed during a speech at a hotel in 2008 after what his staff called a fainting spell. He returned to work the next day.

The U.S. attorney general is seventh in the presidential line of succession, after the vice president, congressional leaders and three cabinet secretaries, according to a 2008 report from the Congressional Research Service.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Howard Goller, James Dalgleish, Chizu Nomiyama, Nick Zieminski and Meredith Mazzilli)

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