Rybak doing better; doctor says prompt 911 call likely saved his life

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One of the doctors treating R.T. Rybak says a prompt 911 call likely saved the life of the former Minneapolis mayor.

The Star Tribune reports Dr. Betty Grey of Abbott Northwestern Hospital says Rybak is recovering nicely from Saturday's heart attack. But “If he had waited another 15 minutes … the outcome could have been completely opposite,” Grey says.

Rybak was cross-country skiing at a Minneapolis park when he felt chest pains Saturday.

His daughter said Sunday that Rybak returned to his car and when friends spotted him he asked them to call 911, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

The Star Tribune reported that Rybak will remain hospitalized for several days, but KSTP carried a photo of him from his Twitter account, grinning and giving a hearty thumb's up.

Rybak, 58, took to his Facebook page to greet supporters, writing, "Thanks everyone for all the nice messages. It was scary but I'm going to be just fine. Now, Betsy, I PROMISE to stop making news so you can lead. See everyone on the Theodore Wirth Ski Trails...maybe not tomorrow."

Hundreds of people chimed in with good wishes for the recovering former mayor, who did not run again after serving for 12 years. His successor Betsy Hodges was sworn in last week.

Rybak also took to Twitter with a characteristic blend of humor and gratitude:

WCCO reported Rybak was taken by ambulance to Abbot Northwestern on Saturday afternoon, where he underwent an angioplasty and received two stents.

KARE reports that Rybak's father and grandfather suffered from serious heart problems. The Star Tribune quoted John Stiles, Rybak's former spokesman, who said the incident was closely related to Rybak’s family history of heart-related problems.

"He's a very healthy eater. He's one of the fittest people any of us will ever know," said Stiles.

In 2006, UPI reported that Rybak was named "fittest mayor in America" by Men's Fitness magazine. Rybak's routine of running, biking, swimming and weightlifting led to his selection. At the time, the Southwest Journal reported the magazine also lauded Rybak's support for bike trails in Theodore Wirth Park and noted that he was training for the City of Lakes Loppet cross-country ski race that started at Theodore Wirth Park before winding through the Chain of Lakes. That's the same park where Rybak was skiing when he experienced shortness of breath and discomfort on Saturday.

Rybak is on the Board of Directors of the Loppet Foundation.

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