Doctors found 'something like an irregular heartbeat'

ROME — Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister of Italy and the country’s wealthiest media tycoon, is expected to remain in the intensive care unit of a Milan hospital for observation today after he briefly fainted at a political rally Sunday.

Berlusconi’s aides said he was doing “fine,” playing down speculation that the 70-year-old’s health is beginning to falter after an arduous political and business year. Berlusconi lost re-election in April and is standing trial in a fraud case connected to his Mediaset empire. The trial resumes Friday.

When Berlusconi’s legs gave out aides rushed to his side to prop him up before helping him off stage in Tuscany. Berlusconi later brushed off the incident, blaming it on a combination of an overheated auditorium, fatigue and antibiotics he had been taking after a knee operation. Still, he said doctors had found “something like an irregular heartbeat” when they first examined him Sunday and decided to keep him under observation.

Berlusconi overcame prostate cancer in the 1990s but has been in strong health for much of the past decade.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more