Bernie Sanders recovering after procedure for blocked artery
Independent senator from Vermont is again campaigning for U.S. president
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has halted campaigning for president after being hospitalized Tuesday with chest pains that required doctors to insert two stents after finding a blockage in one artery, his campaign said Wednesday.
Campaign adviser Jeff Weaver said the surgery was necessary after doctors found the blockage in one artery.
"Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits," said Weaver. "He will be resting up over the next few days. We are cancelling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates."
Sanders, the oldest candidate among the 19 contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, was scheduled Wednesday to hold a town hall in Las Vegas and appear at a gun safety forum.
It is not immediately clear if Sanders will be able to participate in the next Democratic debate, which occurs Oct. 15 near Columbus, Ohio.
But he took to Twitter Wednesday to let people know he is all right.
Thanks for all the well wishes. I'm feeling good. I'm fortunate to have good health care and great doctors and nurses helping me to recover.<br><br>None of us know when a medical emergency might affect us. And no one should fear going bankrupt if it occurs. Medicare for All!—@BernieSanders
Sanders, who turned 78 last month, has been among the top contenders in the crowded field seeking the nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump.
Sanders is campaigning for the second time for the Democratic nomination for president, after a spirited contest in which he won 20 states and territories against front-runner Hillary Clinton in 2016.
The campaign halt comes the day after Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, reported a big $25.3 million US fundraising haul for the third quarter, putting him in the early lead in the money race.
Sanders is an Independent but caucuses with the Democrats.
A senator for Vermont since 2007, he was previously a congressman from the state and was the former four-term mayor of Burlington. Vt.
Fellow candidates Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris of California wished Sanders well upon hearing the news.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/DrBiden?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DrBiden</a> and I are sending our best wishes to <a href="https://twitter.com/BernieSanders?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BernieSanders</a>, Jane, and the whole Sanders family. Anyone who knows Bernie understands what a force he is. We are confident that he will have a full and speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him on the trail soon.—@JoeBiden
"Thinking of @BernieSanders today and wishing him a speedy recovery. If there's one thing I know about him, he's a fighter and I look forward to seeing him on the campaign trail soon," Harris said on Twitter.
The insertion of stents to open blocked heart arteries is a relatively common procedure, with as many as one million Americans a year undergoing it, medical experts said. It involves inserting a balloon-tipped catheter to open blockage and deploy tiny wire-mesh tubes to prop open the artery.
In general, recovery takes a few days, but how quickly Sanders will bounce back depends on his symptoms before getting the stent, said Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic.
Watch: Sanders slams Trump in June debate
"People recover quickly, and assuming no complications, there is no reason why he could not get back on the campaign trail in a timely fashion," Nissen said.
A democratic socialist, Sanders galvanized progressives during his 2016 run, popularizing ideas such as Medicare for All, his proposal for a government-run healthcare plan based on the system for Americans over the age of 65.
Sanders supporters pointed to his unexpected procedure as more evidence of why a Medicare for All system was needed, citing a study showing stents can cost up to six times more in the United States than in other countries with government-run healthcare.
"Send him your good vibes – and remember how important the fight for Medicare for All really is," Sanders speechwriter David Sirota said in a daily newsletter.
Watch: Then-mayor Sanders speaks to CBC News in 1989
Sanders had been running in second place in the Democratic race behind Biden, the former vice-president, until the last month, when a surge by fellow progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts moved her ahead of Sanders in many opinion polls.
Sanders's Democratic rivals in the presidential race rushed to send him wishes for a speedy recovery.
"I hope to see my friend back on the campaign trail very soon," Warren wrote on Twitter.
His campaign cancelled at least $136,000 US in cable and $600,000 US in broadcast television spending following the news, according to Medium Buying, a company that tracks political ad spending.
With files from CBC News