Radio's Rush Limbaugh has tests after chest pains

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Conservative U.S. radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, hospitalized in Hawaii with chest pains, faced a battery of medical tests on Thursday after a “good night’s rest,” his substitute host told listeners.

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh speaks at a forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington, in this June 23, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Micah Walter/Files

Limbaugh, 58, fell ill on Wednesday while vacationing in Honolulu, said economist Walter Williams, filling in for America’s top-rated talk radio personality since the start of Limbaugh’s annual Christmas break last week.

Honolulu television station KITV reported on Wednesday that Limbaugh was listed in serious condition at Queen’s Medical Center after being treated at a hotel by paramedics.

Spokesman Kit Carson said he had no further information on Limbaugh’s condition or the circumstances of his hospitalization beyond a website statement saying Limbaugh was “resting comfortably after suffering chest pains.”

Carson said it was unclear if the nationally syndicated broadcaster would return to work as scheduled January 4.

Commanding an audience of about 20 million listeners weekly, Limbaugh has long been a leading voice of American conservatism, railing against the political left as he helped shape the Republican Party’s agenda in the media and mobilize its base of supporters.

At the opening of his daily three-hour broadcast on Thursday, Williams told listeners Limbaugh “wants me to continue to push back the frontiers of ignorance in America.”

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He said Limbaugh was “aware” and “in good, stable condition, and is as comfortable as one can be in a hospital while on vacation.”

“He had ... a very good night’s rest,” Williams said, adding that though the chest pains Limbaugh experienced “can be an indicator of a cardiac event, the cause of his discomfort cannot be confirmed at this time.”

“He’s going to take a lot of tests,” Williams told listeners. “Rush will have a complete examination today, and we’ll know more and will keep everyone informed.”

U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, wished Limbaugh well as a guest on his show on Thursday, saying, “As one of his many fans, I was so glad to hear that he’s resting well and that things look good.”

Team Sarah, an online network of admirers of conservative icon and ex-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, issued an alert urging its members to pray for the radio host.

Limbaugh was vacationing in Hawaii at the same time as the No. 1 target of his frequent fulminations against Democrats -- President Barack Obama.

Limbaugh drew fire from the White House this year when he said he wanted the president to fail “if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation.”

Limbaugh has been a darling of the political right and a liberal nemesis since launching his show in 1985 amid the Republican revolution of Ronald Reagan, a man he has called “the greatest president of the 20th century.”

Brash and colorful -- he coined the term “femi-Nazis” to disparage women’s rights groups and once said “the difference between Los Angeles and yogurt is that yogurt comes with less fruit” -- he helped spawn a wave of right-wing commentators and moralists on radio and television.

He has experienced other medical problems in the past decade, including a loss of hearing reversed by an electronic hearing device called a cochlear implant, as well as an addiction to prescription painkillers that landed him in rehab several years ago.

Editing by Mary Milliken and Xavier Briand