Doctor says Sarlo did not suffer a heart attack

State Sen. Paul Sarlo suffered from a viral infection in his upper respiratory tract that caused difficulty breathing and a “transient irregular heartbeat” on Monday morning, according to a statement released by his doctor.

Sarlo was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center at 2a.m. Monday, complaining about shortness of breath and has been at the hospital since. The incident was initially described as a “cardiac emergency.”

But Sarlo’s cardiologist, Dr. Rick Pumill, said that there was no heart attack.

“Tests are now conclusive that Senator Sarlo did not suffer a heart attack,” said Pumill. “Senator Sarlo’s episode was caused by a viral infection which triggered a respiratory insufficiency and a subsequent transient irregular heartbeat. This is a rather common occurrence and will have no lasting effects on Senator Sarlo.”

Pumill said that Sarlo had experienced flu-like symptoms in the week before the incident “which are consistent with an upper respiratory tract infection.”

“These symptoms, coupled with sleep apnea, caused Senator Sarlo’s medical emergency,” he said, adding that the heart beat irregularity was temporary.

That made it difficult for Sarlo to breath, the doctor said, which led to an irregular heartbeat.

Sarlo remains in the hospital today, and the statement did not say when he will be released. He said he’s learned from the scary episode.

“I am very happy to know that there was no permanent damage and that I do not have a chronic condition,” he said. “The lesson I take from this is that I have to slow down once in a while. The body needs rest and you can’t ignore even minor ailments like colds and viruses.”

Doctor says Sarlo did not suffer a heart attack