The Miami Herald newspaper reported Sunday that Cuban President Fidel Castro was treated in October for hypertensive encephalopathy, a potentially fatal illness affecting the brain.

The front-page report, datelined San Jose, Costa Rica, cited as its source Dr. Elizabeth Trujillo Iz-quierdo, described as a Cuban surgeon who said she was formerly part of the medical team at Havana's CIMEQ hospital.However, the dates cited by the Miami Herald for Castro's illness - the newspaper quoted Trujillo as saying he was hospitalized from Oct. 22-28 and again for two days from Oct. 30 - coincided with at least one lengthy engagement of Castro's.

Chief Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters in Havana on Oct. 26 that he had met Castro for six hours the previous day to discuss preparations for a January visit to the communist-ruled island by Pope John Paul.

In Havana, no Cuban officials were immediately available to comment on the Miami Herald report.

The newspaper said that Trujillo left Cuba in April and is living in Costa Rica, where she told the newspaper she had been in hiding since she was the object of an attempted kidnapping last month.

The Herald said it confirmed Trujillo's identity through documents and multiple sources. But it said there was no other source inside or outside Cuba to confirm her report of Castro's illness.

Trujillo told the newspaper that Castro arrived at the CIMEQ hospital in October with symptoms of the disease, an increase in blood pressure that can cause stroke or partial paralysis if untreated. The condition paralyzes brain functions and, in severe cases, can lead to death, the newspaper said.

Trujillo said Castro was rushed to the Center for Medical and Surgical Research on Oct. 22 and released on Oct. 28. She added that he was re-admitted for two days from Oct. 30.

She said the initial treatment consisted of "sedating him as much as possible, almost to a state of coma, during the first three days, to prevent the formation of a blood clot that might affect the brain."