By AP Television Writer
updated 5/10/2010 11:39:39 AM ET 2010-05-10T15:39:39

Barbara Walters said she will have surgery to replace a faulty heart valve later this week and take the summer off from "The View" to recuperate.

The television legend made the announcement on the air Monday. She said she's known about her condition for a while, and decided with her doctors that this is the best time to have the heart surgery done.

"Since the summer is coming up," she said, "I can take a nice vacation."

Walters, 80, is one of the best-known personalities in television news. She began on the "Today" show, was the first woman to anchor a network evening news program, then was one of the toughest competitors in the fierce game of landing sought-after interviews.

At a time others would be slowing down, she invented "The View" in 1997 and the daily talk show with a woman's round-table is a staple on daytime TV. She said earlier this year she was giving up her annual interview special with actors that traditionally preceded the Academy Awards.

She said her condition would be a surprise to many friends. "But I thought it best not to talk about it too far in advance," she said.

Walters said she had not felt any symptoms from the narrowing of the heart valve, which can worsen and restrict the flow of blood to the heart. There are four heart valves, and they can be surgically replaced by a mechanical valve, an animal valve or human organ from a donor.

"There's no denying that this is serious surgery," said ABC News President David Westin. "But it's also a type of surgery that has been done often and successfully. And, as those of us who work with Barbara know, she's in excellent condition. So we have every reason to expect a great result and a speedy recovery."

Walters said recovery generally takes one to three months, mostly involving regaining strength.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush and comic Robin Williams had heart valve replacement surgery last year.

Whoopi Goldberg, her co-host on "The View," asked if she was scared.

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She said "no" but said, "Look, nobody wants to have this kind of surgery."


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