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Merckx in hospital after heart scare

BRUSSELS (AFP) — Cycling great Eddy Merckx has been hospitalized in Brussels after complaining about heart pains, Belgian newspapers reported on Friday.

Het Laatste Nieuws reported that, according to Merckx’s close friend, Paul Van Himst, it is “not so serious” and everything seems to be under control. However, it also said that, according to those present, Merckx looked “pale and worried.”

De Morgen and Het Laatste Nieuws said the 69-year-old Belgian had been suffering from hypertension and had lost consciousness last weekend.

Merckx, known as “The Cannibal” in the prime of his cycling career in the 1970s when he won the Tour de France five times, has a history of heart problems and had a pacemaker fitted last year.

A biography of the cyclist, published in March, 2012, said he had had a heart condition from the start of his career and should never have even competed professionally.

Friends of Merckx told AFP recently that he may undergo an angioplasty operation to widen narrowed or obstructed heart arteries.

Merckx is being treated by Pedro Brugada, the same doctor who successfully treated Nick Nuyens’ heart problems. Brugada is also treating former cyclocross world champion Niels Albert.