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Holder Hospitalized and Released After Shortness of Breath

<p>Justice Department officials say he is alert and resting comfortably at home.</p>
Image:  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
Attorney General Eric HolderKris Connor / Getty Images file

Attorney General Eric Holder was hospitalized for about three hours Thursday after experiencing heart-related shortness of breath — but he didn't have a heart attack — Justice Department officials told NBC News.

Holder experienced similar symptoms "several years ago" that didn't require serious medical attention, the Justice Department said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Holder's became short of breath and began feeling lightheaded during his regular morning meeting with senior staff, the Justice Department said.

A Justice Department official who was in the meeting told NBC News that Holder mentioned that he wasn't feeling well and excused himself. The official described it as "nothing sudden or traumatic."

Another official said Holder, 63, an avid basketball player in generally good health, had been feeling under the weather all week.

Holder was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center by ambulance, the Justice Department statement said. He was joking with paramedics on the way, and he was alert, comfortable and talking with his doctors while at the hospital, department officials said.

Holder was discharged 1:15 p.m., and was able to walk out of the hospital without assistance. H was resting comfortably at home Thursday afternoon, the Justice Department statement said.

He had been scheduled to attend a White House event with President Barack Obama later in the day. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters that the president wished Holder a speedy recovery.

— Pete Williams