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WORLD | 02-10-2019 12:38

Bernie Sanders pauses campaign events after emergency treatment for blocked artery

US Senator Bernie Sanders suspends campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination Wednesday after being receiving emergency treatment for a blocked artery, his campaign announces.

Bernie Sanders' campaign announced Wednesday that the Democratic presidential candidate had a heart procedure for a blocked artery and was canceling events and appearances "until further notice."

The 78-year-old senator for Vermont experienced chest discomfort during an event Tuesday and sought medical evaluation, according to a campaign statement. It said two stents were "successfully inserted" and that Sanders "is conversing and in good spirits."

"During a campaign event yesterday evening, Senator Sanders experienced some chest discomfort. Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted," Sanders senior advisor Jeff Weaver said in a statement.

"Senator Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days,'" he said.

His campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, was on a telephone call with supporters Tuesday night but didn't mention any health concerns about the candidate. Shakir said the "state of the campaign is strong" and he played up Sanders' strong fundraising total for the third quarter.

Sanders recently cancelled some appearances in South Carolina because he lost his voice. The campaign said at the time he felt fine.

Age debate

Sanders, the Democratic field’s oldest candidate, sometimes jokingly refers to his age at town halls and other events, especially when interacting with younger participants. His aides have tried to project him as a candidate with energy levels that surpassed his 2016 presidential campaign.

He is one of three candidates over age 70 in the Democratic primary, which has spurred debate over whether the party should rally behind a new generation of political leaders.

His health scare is certain to revive that discussion in the weeks before the next presidential debate this month.

To insert a stent, doctors first thread a tiny balloon inside a blocked artery to widen it. The stent is a small wire mesh tube that then is propped inside to keep the artery open. The number of stents needed depends on the size of the clog.

The treatment can immediately improve symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. The stents are threaded into place through blood vessels in the groin or wrist, requiring only a tiny incision. Most are coated with medication to prevent the targeted artery from reclosing. That is still a risk, requiring monitoring, and patients also often are prescribed blood thinners to prevent clots from forming in the stents.

A letter released by Sanders’ physician in 2016 cited a history of mildly elevated cholesterol but no heart disease.

Challengers

Sanders has served in Congress as an independent aligned with Democrats since 1991, first as a representative of Vermont and then, since 2007, as a senator.

Earlier this year he was running consistently in second place behind Joe Biden, who is two years his junior, in the race for next year's Democratic Party nomination for president.

Since July he has battled for position with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, 70, who recently moved slightly ahead of him in polls in the crowded field.

Both Sanders' and Biden's age has been raised as an issue in their candidacies.

– AP

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