Bernie Sanders cancels events, undergoes heart procedure in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Sen. Bernie Sanders is recovering in Las Vegas after having emergency surgery Tuesday night.

The presidential candidate’s campaign team says he had a heart procedure for a blocked artery.

Sanders held a fundraiser at Shiraz restaurant on Sahara and Decatur. While inside, his campaign says the Vermont senator experienced chest discomfort.

Shiraz, the restaurant at 2575 S. Decatur where Bernie Sanders held a fundraiser in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. (Cristen Drummond/KLAS-TV)

Video from that event shared with 8NewsNow shows Sanders speaking, but nothing that would indicate he was in pain. The Sanders campaign also posted a periscope video but removed it Wednesday afternoon. That video shows Sanders speaking for roughly 15 minutes before taking a few questions from the audience.

At one point he asks for a chair on stage to take a seat.

The Sanders campaign says in a statement, “Following medical evaluation, he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted.”

But Sanders’ behavior last night seemed unusual for some familiar with his typical mannerisms on the campaign trail.

“I’ve always have regarded him as a highly energetic person of his age,” said Byron Georgiou, who attended the fundraiser. “And so, I never saw him look to lean up against anything or sit down or anything, so it struck me as a little odd that he asked for a chair.”

Before the fundraiser, Sanders stopped by the Healing Garden to pay his respects.

The Sanders campaign says the senator is conversing and in good spirits. But all his events and appearances are canceled until further notice.

Sanders is 78 and the oldest Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 election.

His campaign is not disclosing which hospital he’s recovering in.

Following some events in Las Vegas, Sanders was expected to be at a number of events in Los Angeles.

Just last week, he visited seven states in six days.

With such a busy schedule, those following his campaign say the emergency surgery will create a setback.

“He’s someone who often holds a very rigorous campaign schedule,” CBS news correspondent Cara Korte said. She said his signature is upbeat humor and energy. “So for him to have this medical setback came as a surprise to reporters covering him as well as the campaign.”

A doctor in Las Vegas said the procedure that Sanders underwent is one of the most routine performed by cardiologists.

“The stent comes in all sorts of different sizes depending on the vessel, but almost all of them are made of very fine metal mesh,” Cardiologist Keith Bowman said.

“They are mounted on a balloon. It’s very, very tiny, because these vessels are only 3 millimeters, maybe 4 millimeters if you’re lucky. The bigger the better. And they are expanded within the plaque, to keep the plaque out of the way so you have better bloodflow through the vessel.”

Sanders sometimes jokingly refers to his age at town halls and other events, especially when interacting with younger participants. His aides have tried to project him as a candidate with energy levels that surpassed his 2016 presidential campaign.

He is one of three candidates over age 70 in the Democratic primary, which has spurred debate over whether the party should rally behind a new generation of political leaders. His health scare is certain to revive that discussion in the weeks before the next presidential debate this month.

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