Former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak suffered a heart attack Saturday while cross-country skiing in one of the city’s parks.
Rybak, 58, who left office last week, was taken to Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, where doctors performed an angioplasty and inserted two stents in his arteries. His former spokesman, John Stiles, described the heart attack as “serious,’’ but said Rybak will be released in several days.
Stiles said the event was closely related to Rybak’s family history of heart-related problems. He said Rybak had been skiing alone when he called his wife to tell her he was short of breath. He then ran into friends in the park, who called 911.
Rybak was in good spirits by the afternoon, Stiles added, and eager to ski again when his doctors allow it.
Tim Burke, a spokesman for Abbott Northwestern, said Rybak came to the Emergency Department about 1 p.m. by ambulance. He had skied 7.7 miles at Theodore Wirth Park and was complaining of “shortness of breath and chest pains.”
By late afternoon, however, Rybak was tweeting the news of his hospital stay himself — and in verse.
“My cardiac surprise/Gave me quite a start/But it proves this politician/Has a great big heart,” he tweeted, adding, “By the way the ski trails at Wirth are awesome today.”
And on Sunday morning he added this tweet: "It's a great day to be alive. Really."
At a press conference at the hospital Sunday afternoon, Rybak's two children, Charlie and Grace, said their dad was doing well -- chatting and making bad heart attack jokes.
Rybak’s father had a series of heart problems, although the former mayor has never been hospitalized with such symptoms, his daughter Grace said Saturday.
Gov. Mark Dayton issued a statement soon after learning the news, thanking emergency responders and medical personnel “whose talents and training made the critical difference in the life of this outstanding leader, who has given so much to the people of Minneapolis and all of Minnesota.”
After serving 12 years as mayor, Rybak did not seek re-election to a fourth term last year. On Thursday, Betsy Hodges was sworn in as the city’s new mayor.
Rybak recently became head of Generation Next, a partnership of education, community, government and business leaders aimed at closing the achievement gap between white and minority students.