Bernie Sanders Halts Campaign Events After Experiencing Chest Pains
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2020 presidential candidate, stands for a selfie photograph with an attendee during a Chicago Teachers Union Strike Authorization Vote Rally in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. (Photographer: Laura McDermott/Bloomberg)

Bernie Sanders Halts Campaign Events After Experiencing Chest Pains

(Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has halted his grueling campaign schedule “until further notice” after receiving medical care for a blocked artery.

The Vermont senator, 78, has maintained a busy schedule of speeches and rallies around the country since launching his first presidential campaign in 2015.

But after he experienced chest discomfort at an event in Las Vegas Tuesday night, doctors found a blockage and inserted two stents in his chest.

In a statement, longtime adviser Jeff Weaver said that Sanders was “conversing and in good spirits” and 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 said.

Although stents are a routine medical procedure, the treatment could raise questions among some voters about Sanders’ age. He is the oldest of three septuagenarians in the Democratic field, including Joe Biden, 76, and Elizabeth Warren, 70. President Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee, is 73.

His hospitalization didn’t stop his campaign from seeing an opportunity to plug his Medicare-for-all health care plan.

Sanders campaign speechwriter David Sirota drew a link between the medical intervention and Medicare for All, the candidate’s signature policy issue. “Bernie’s routine medical procedure spotlights why we must pass his health care agenda,” Sirota wrote to his mailing list, citing a study that found coronary stents cost six times more in the U.S. than some European countries.

Following Biden’s lead, Sanders vowed in September to release his medical records before the Democratic nominating contests begin in February, saying he first had to see a doctor to “have a series of tests.” A doctor’s note he released during the 2016 campaign showed no history of heart disease.

But an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in February showed that 62% of voters had reservations about a presidential candidate over the age of 75.

Last month, Sanders canceled three South Carolina campaign events to rest his voice because he was hoarse. During the third Democratic debate in Houston, Sanders’ voice was raspy and his campaign said it was the result of a “vigorous campaign schedule.”

Sanders was scheduled to speak Wednesday at a gun-safety forum in Las Vegas. On Friday, he was expected to speak at an event hosted by the Service Employees International Union in Los Angeles.

The Sanders campaign also postponed its first TV ad buy, which was slated to begin Thursday in Iowa, said Mike Casca, a spokesman for the campaign.

On Tuesday, the Sanders campaign announced it raised $25.3 million during the third quarter, a number that puts him in the top tier of 2020 fundraisers. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have yet to announce their fundraising totals.

More than a million Americans are treated with stents each year to clear clogged arteries, a common problem that develops over decades as fatty plaque builds up and chokes off blood supply to the heart.

Stents are tiny metal cylinders that are snaked into the clogged artery, then expanded to keep the vessel open and allow blood to flow freely. Most patients receive more than one stent during an artery-clearing procedure. They are often released from the hospital the same day or the day after the procedure, and they can return to normal activities within a few days or a week.

Stents are often used in lieu of open heart surgery, where another vein is sewn into place to bypass the clogged artery, in patients who are suffering from clogged arteries and the chest pain known as angina that often accompanies the condition.

“This is a condition that millions of Americans suffer from and it’s very treatable,” said Steve Nissen, head of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “Stenting is a fairly routine medical procedure that shouldn’t preclude him from doing what he needs to do.”

His rivals in the 2020 Democratic contest, as well as the Trump campaign, expressed hopes for his recovery.

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