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Bernie Sanders had a heart attack this week, campaign says

Doctors diagnosed Sanders, 78, with a myocardial infarction, a medical term for heart attack.
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Sen. Bernie Sanders was discharged from a Las Vegas hospital Friday after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week, his campaign said.

Asked how he was feeling as he left the Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center, Sanders told NBC News "great. I feel great."

In a video posted Friday on Twitter, he echoed that sentiment: "I'm feeling so much better."

The Vermont independent senator, 78, was hospitalized Tuesday after experiencing chest pains at a campaign stop in Nevada. He was treated for what his 2020 presidential campaign described at the time as a blockage in one artery.

But a statement from Sanders' doctors released through the campaign on Friday said Sanders "was diagnosed with a myocardial infarction," a medical term for a heart attack.

"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," the doctors' statement said. "All other arteries were normal."

They said he's made good progress in his recovery "and was discharged with instructions to follow up with his personal physician.”

In a statement, Sanders said, "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."

Ehtisham Mahmud, chief of cardiology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, said Sanders' three-day hospitalization indicates he "probably had a small heart attack."

"They require really a very short recovery time," he said.

Cardiologist Karol Watson of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA said she would usually recommend patients who have had minor heart attacks stay away from returning to their normal schedule for about two weeks, sometimes longer.

"Don’t jump right back into whatever caused the heart attack in the first place," she said.

However, she said, she does not usually recommend being bedridden or staying off one's feet after hospitalization.

"Slowly get back into it," she said. "Most patients with these kinds of heart attacks live long healthy lives and have no further problems."

During the last debate among Democratic presidential hopefuls on Sept. 12, Sanders had a hoarse voice, and a few days later he canceled a trio of campaign events in South Carolina.

The next week, former President Jimmy Carter said 80 is too old to handle the rigors of the presidency. Both Sanders and Vice President Joe Biden, 76, would turn 80 during a first term if either was elected.

"If I were just 80 years old, if I was 15 years younger, I don't believe I could undertake the duties I experienced when I was president," Carter, 95, said during his annual report at the Carter Center in Atlanta.

After Sanders' hospitalization Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, 70, who's also vying for the presidency, said, "Everyone here wishes him well — wants to seem him strong and back on the trail as soon as possible."

Sanders said before his hospitalization that he would release his medical records.

"The American people have a right to know whether the person they are going to be voting for for president is healthy," he said.

His campaign said he plans on taking part in the next Democratic presidential debate on Oct. 15.