Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign announced Wednesday that the presidential candidate had two stents inserted after the discovery of a blocked artery and that he will cancel his upcoming events for now.
“During a campaign event yesterday evening, Sen. 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,” Senior Advisor Jeff Weaver said in a statement.
“Sen. 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,” he continued.
Sanders, 78, has maintained an extraordinarily busy schedule for years, tracing from his first presidential run to the midterms and now his second bid for the presidency.
The senator was among the ten presidential candidates set to appear Wednesday in Las Vegas for an MSNBC-hosted gun-control forum, and had events scheduled in California in the days after.
After announcing a massive fundraising haul of $25.3 million on Tuesday, the Sanders campaign had also purchased its first television ad buy in Iowa, a key early primary-voting state.
Those ads began to get canceled on Wednesday, though an aide to Sanders said that it was simply a postponement.
A heart stent is a non-surgical procedure that places a metal device into the arteries, propping them open to increase blood flow to the heart. The routine procedure is often carried out as a preemptive measure when a patient experiences chest pain and there is a potential risk for heart attack, Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and health care researcher at Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital, told The Daily Beast.
The timing of Sanders’ chest pain is key, according to Krumholz. If the pain occurred while at rest, it is likely something known as “unstable angina,” which is often caused by a reduced blood flow to the heart. “Basically, there wasn't enough blood flow to the heart, so something that is potentially very dangerous has now been managed,” Krumholz said of the stent.
According to Krumholz, the procedure can be outpatient, but doctors typically observe a patient for 24 hours in case of complications. “Most people have a rapid recovery and can resume their activities shortly,” he said.
After the news broke, Sanders’ 2020 Democratic competitors issued statements hoping for his well being.
Among them, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted, “Bruce, Team Warren, and I are sending all our best wishes for a speedy recovery to @BernieSanders. I hope to see my friend back on the campaign trail very soon.”
And former Vice President Joe Biden wrote: “@DrBiden and I are sending our best wishes to @BernieSanders, 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.”
Sanders later tweeted that he was feeling good and used the moment to advocate for Medicare for All.
—With additional reporting from Audrey McNamara.