Oct. 2, 2019 — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is recovering after being treated for a blocked artery, according to a campaign official.
“During a campaign event yesterday evening, Senator Sanders experienced some chest discomfort,” Jeff Weaver, an adviser to Sanders, said in a statement Wednesday. “Following medical evaluation and testing he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted. 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.”
Sanders, 78 — the oldest candidate on the campaign trail — felt chest discomfort during a rally Tuesday evening in Las Vegas. He is now recovering in a Las Vegas hospital, the campaign said.
Despite having to cancel his upcoming events, the Vermont senator’s condition is a common one and easily treatable, says Annapoorna S. Kini, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Hospital Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.
“Essentially, the heart is not getting enough oxygen, so the blockage is opened and a scaffold is inserted,” she said. “Then the blood will get into that area of the heart, and the pain will go away.”
A coronary stent is a small, expandable mesh tube, Kini says. It is made out of stainless steel or cobalt alloy metal.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC. Coronary heart disease is the most common form, killing more than 370,000 people each year.
Once a patient is diagnosed with a blocked artery and treated with stents, they are given blood thinners and often, cholesterol medication, and are regularly monitored.
For patients who have stents, there is a 3% to 5% chance of heart problems each year after the procedure, Kini says.
“It used to be more serious, but not in the current era,” she said of the condition. “It’s very common.”
Ideally, patients will remain in relatively low-stress situations. But that may be hard to swing for Sanders. He has been hitting multiple cities each day — just last weekend, he held events at various colleges in New Hampshire, and he was expected in Iowa this weekend, according to The New York Times.
“If it happens to someone at a high-profile level, you cannot change the person’s job,” Kini said.