Sen. Bernie Sanders suffered a heart attack earlier this week before a stent procedure was conducted to clear an artery, doctors said Friday in a statement released by his presidential campaign.
Sanders, 78, was released from a Las Vegas hospital Friday.
“Sen. Sanders was diagnosed with a myocardial infarction,” his treating physicians, Arturo Marchand Jr. and Arjun Gururaj, said in the statement Friday.
The independent Vermont senator, dressed in a blue button-down shirt and a dark blazer, waved to cameras as he departed the hospital Friday afternoon alongside his wife, Jane. He told reporters he felt “great, thank you” before entering a dark SUV.
The statement, released after Sanders left the hospital, marked the first time the campaign had acknowledged he had a heart attack. Aides had previously declined to answer questions about his diagnosis.
Asked Friday why they waited to announce the diagnosis, Sanders campaign spokesman Mike Casca said, “We just wanted to wait until he was discharged to give out the information all at once.”
On Wednesday, Sanders’ campaign said he was hospitalized after experiencing chest pains at a Tuesday night campaign event. After doctors discovered an artery blockage, the campaign said then, they inserted two stents.
“The Senator was stable upon arrival and taken immediately to the cardiac catheterization laboratory, at which time two stents were placed in a blocked coronary artery in a timely fashion,” his doctors said Friday. “All other arteries were normal.”
They said his hospital stay was “uneventful with good expected progress. He was discharged with instructions to follow up with his personal physician.”
It was not immediately clear what effect Sanders’ health issues would have on his second straight campaign for the presidency. While he was hospitalized, a senior aide said his campaign events were canceled “until further notice.”
Sanders planned to fly home to Vermont on Saturday, his campaign said. Over the weekend, surrogates are fanning out across early nominating states to campaign on his behalf.
His wife Jane said before his release that Sanders would “take a few days to rest” but would take part in the Oct. 15 Democratic presidential debate. It was not clear whether he would resume his normal campaign activities before then.
An artery blockage such as Sanders’ typically has a good prognosis and does not normally require a long recovery period, medical experts said earlier this week, before it was known that he had suffered a heart attack.
Sanders’ condition has revived a debate over age and health in the Democratic Party. The three candidates leading the polls in the Democratic primary — Sanders, former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. — are in their 70s. President Donald Trump is also a septuagenarian.
Earlier in the campaign, some younger candidates made the argument that it was time to turn the party’s leadership over to a new generation. But that pitch was mostly aimed at Biden, at the time the clear leader in the polls.
Sanders’s medical crisis occurred amid some good news for his campaign — an announcement this week that he raised $25.3 million, more than any other candidate for the Democratic nomination, in the third quarter. In recent weeks, Sanders has slipped in the polls, dropping behind Biden and Warren .
Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir sought to emphasize his position in the money chase on Friday.
“Our third quarter fundraising totals make clear that Bernie’s campaign is part of a working class movement taking on the greed and corruption of the corporate elite,” Shakir said in a statement. “Let me thank all of our contributors and volunteers. We’re going to win and create the political revolution.”
Sanders, in a tweet issued from the hospital this week, used his hospitalization to argue for his agenda, specifically the Medicare-for-all plan he has long championed. He noted that a health emergency can come as a surprise, as his did.
In the statement released by his campaign Friday, Sanders thanked the doctors and nurses who treated him.
“After two and a half days in the hospital, I feel great, and after taking a short time off, I look forward to getting back to work,” Sanders said.