Houllier future at Villa in doubt after heart trouble
Gerard Houllier is likely to be discharged from hospital this week, but his long-term future at Aston Villa is in doubt after it emerged that he had suffered from a similar condition to the one which required him to undergo 11-hour open heart surgery in 2001.
The club's doctor, Mark Waller, has confirmed that the chest pains experienced by Houllier -- which forced the 63-year-old to be admitted to the coronary care unit in Birmingham last Wednesday night -- were caused by a dissection of the descending aorta.
It is nowhere near as serious as the condition which affected Houllier in October 2001. Then, surgeons were required to repair the main aortic valve with a synthetic material called Dacron -- an operation with a success rate of just 30pc. Houllier later admitted that he was fortunate to still be alive.
But a dissection of the aorta is a serious condition, essentially a tear in the inner wall of the heart's aorta. It has been necessary for Houllier to remain under observation in hospital and he will not be returning to full-time managerial duties this season.
Whether he returns next season is a matter of debate. Aortic dissection is associated with hypertension (high blood pressure), a condition experienced by many football managers. Houllier says that his condition is "improving and extremely encouraging", but there has been no suggestion yet whether he intends to return to management. (© Daily Telegraph, London)