Doctors say the next several days will tell how soon Mike Ditka will be allowed to resume his coaching duties after suffering a mild heart attack at the Chicago Bears' training facility.
Nursing supervisor Joan Miteff said early today that Ditka's condition remained unchanged from Wednesday - serious but stable.But Ditka's wife Diana told reporters, "he's doing fantastic," after she left Lake Forest Hospital Wednesday afternoon. "He's too ornery."
"Barring anything unforseen, we expect him to recover nicely," Dr. Jay Alexander, a cardiologist, said. "The next several days will tell us how quickly we'll let him get back on the field."
Ditka, 49, complained of chest pains early Wednesday after his daily workout, assistant coaches said. They brought Ditka to the hospital, and he was alert and conscious when he got there shortly after 8:30 a.m., Alexander said.
Ditka will require hospitalization for at least five to seven days, Alexander said. He said the coach was given medicine to open a blocked artery, and the chest pains stopped when the medication was given.
Alexander said the area of Ditka's heart involved in the attack appeared to be extremely small and confined to the bottom wall of the heart.
The cardiologist also said he did not believe Ditka's workout caused the heart attack.
Bears president Michael McCaskey said he would name an acting coach later in the week.
In keeping with his reputation for being headstrong - both as an NFL coach and player - McCaskey said Ditka resisted the first attempts by the coaches to get medical attention, but finally agreed to go to the hospital.
Ditka also indicated he hadn't lost his sense of humor when he and Alexander were checking out an ultrasound monitor that shows the heart rate. "Gee, I see my heart," Ditka said. "A lot of people don't think I have one."
"Mike Ditka has been the person that brings this team together," said Emery Moorehead, who plays Ditka's old position of tight end. "Obviously, we want to have a big win on Sunday ... and show coach Ditka that we can win the game the way we should have done last week."
The Bears, 7-2 after a 30-7 loss to the New England Patriots last weekend, host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-7, on Sunday.