Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is shown on January 23, 2010, in Baghdad. A lawmaker says he is in intensive care.

Read a version of this story in Arabic.

Story highlights

Talabani's office says he's in stable condition

A lawmaker and other official say he had a stroke; office blames 'hardening of the arteries'

Talabani, 79, was elected president of Iraq in 2005

He has left the country several times for medical issues

CNN  — 

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was in stable condition late Tuesday after he was rushed to a Baghdad hospital Monday night, his office said.

In a statement issued Tuesday night, the president’s office said tests “have shown that the health status of His Excellency was caused by hardening of the arteries.”

“The tests also showed that the body functions are normal and the health status of the president is stable,” the statement said. “He is subject to focused medical attention under the supervision of a specialized Iraqi medical team.”

But an Iraqi Kurdish lawmaker close to Talabani said earlier that the 79-year-old leader had suffered a stroke.

“His health condition is not very good,” said Mahmoud Othman, who said he was headed to the hospital to visit Talabani earlier Tuesday.

Othman said Talabani was in intensive care. Another official said Talabani had a stroke, but the president’s office had released a statement earlier saying that he was exhausted.

“Recently, His Excellency President Jalal Talabani spent exhaustive efforts in order to accomplish harmony and stability in the country. Due to fatigue and exhaustion, His Excellency had a health emergency,” the president’s office said Tuesday.

Also read: More than two dozen dead in second day of Iraq violence

Talabani was elected president of Iraq in 2005, in the nation’s first free elections in more than 50 years. This is not the first time he has dealt with serious medical issues, and at times, the exact nature of his ailments have been shrouded in secrecy.

In February 2007, he fell ill and was flown to Jordan for treatment, and there were conflicting reports about what prompted his hospitalization. A hospital source told CNN at the time that doctors performed a catheterization procedure on his heart, but his family and aides denied that.

Talabani’s doctor and a spokesman for the president’s office said then that he was suffering from exhaustion and lung inflammation, and underwent tests they described as precautionary.

He did not return to Iraq until March.

Two months later, Talabani left for medical tests and to lose weight, his office said. He did not return until June.

In January 2012, he had spinal surgery in Germany.

Read more: Iraqi vice president predicts return to sectarian violence

CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq and Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this report.