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Sen. Bernie Sanders Gets Two Stents for Artery Blockage

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Senator Bernie Sanders was treated for a blocked artery after suffering chest pain on the campaign trail Tuesday evening.

The 78-year-old presidential hopeful received two stents to open the blockage. He has cancelled public events for the time being, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

"Senator Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days. We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates," Jeff Weaver, an adviser to Sanders, said in a statement.

According to Weaver, "following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted."

After the procedure, a campaign aide reported that Sanders "feels better than ever because that's how people feel after they get a stent and there's more blood flow."

That notion was seconded by Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist and chief academic officer at Cleveland Clinic's Heart & Vascular Institute.

"We don't know all the details, but this is a common, safe procedure, and with contemporary stents, it generally comes with a short recovery time," said Nissen, who wasn't involved in Sanders' care. "The purpose of modern medicine is to let people continue pursuing their passions, and for this procedure, patients can generally get back to that relatively quickly."

The senator from Vermont was on his way to Las Vegas for a gun forum when the health issue arose. He had planned to visit California and Iowa later in the week, campaign aides told the Times.

Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said Sanders suffered classic signs of heart attack and was promptly sent to emergency services.

"All heart attacks present differently. In women, for example, they typically present as a sudden shortness of breath. Mr. Sanders had the textbook symptoms of chest pain that was successfully treated," Bhusri noted.

"If not recognized and treated early, the outcome would have been more ominous," Bhusri added.

According to the American Heart Association, stents help keep coronary arteries open and reduce the chance of a heart attack. Doctors insert the stent -- a tiny mesh tube -- into the clogged artery with a balloon catheter. When they inflate the balloon, the stent expands and locks in place. This allows blood to flow more freely.

Did Sanders' hectic schedule contribute to his heart crisis? One expert isn't sure, but said the politician's example should be a wake-up call to many Americans.

"Lack of sleep, exercise, and increased stress can certainly lead to acute coronary events," said Dr. Benjamin Hirsh, who directs preventive cardiology at Northwell Health Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.

"Whether or not these factors contributed to Bernie Sanders' heart condition, we continue to learn vital lessons from this and other similar stories," he said. "Coronary disease is on the rise, regular medical evaluation is necessary, and prioritizing healthy living is essential to keep your heart safe."

More information

To learn more about stents, visit the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Benjamin Hirsh, M.D., director, preventive cardiology, Northwell Health Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; Steven Nissen, M.D., cardiologist and chief academic officer, Cleveland Clinic's Heart & Vascular Institute; Satjit Bhusri, M.D., cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; The New York Times

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