DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will spend the night at a hospital "out of an abundance of caution" for what doctors believe is a viral illness and dehydration, after falling ill at an event Monday morning, his office said.
Branstad, 68, was alert and comfortable Monday afternoon, said spokesman Jimmy Centers. Branstad was staying overnight at Iowa Methodist Medical Center and canceled all of his public appearances for Tuesday.
The governor was taken by ambulance to the hospital after he required assistance at a ribbon-cutting event for a new research center at DuPont Pioneer in the Des Moines suburb of Johnston. State Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, who was in the front row, said Branstad began to struggle with his speech and lose his balance. He was offered a chair before being helped to lie on the floor.
"I basically just held his hand and did what I could do," said Zaun, adding that when paramedics arrived, they asked Branstad a series of questions and the governor was "100 percent coherent."
Dr. Mark Purtle, chief medical officer of Iowa Methodist parent company UnityPointHealth-Des Moines, said doctors believe the governor has a viral illness. The hospital conducted tests and ruled out other contributing factors, including cardiac issues, Purtle said.
Branstad has received IV fluids to help with the dehydration.
Branstad, who recently was re-elected to a sixth non-consecutive term, had a heart attack in December 2000 and doctors inserted a stent in his heart to keep an artery open. In May 2010, Branstad's doctor located a partially blocked artery in his heart during a routine angiogram. Branstad had a second stent inserted in his heart. He returned to the campaign trail a few days later.
Last month, Branstad had outpatient surgery to treat varicose veins in his legs.
Before he fell ill Monday, the governor had coughed throughout his regular news conference. Asked about his health, he said he had a "bad cold."
Lt. Gov Kim Reynolds, who appeared later at an education event Branstad was supposed to attend, has also been feeling sick. Reynolds canceled her Tuesday appearances, and the governor's office said she would visit her doctor "out of an abundance of caution."
"He's had a cold, we've both kind of been suffering from a cold, but he was doing much better. He's doing fine. He'll be fine," Reynolds said.