Tuesday, February 4, 2003

McConnell has bypass surgery

Senator learned about blocked arteries Friday

Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON - Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky - the No. 2 Republican in the Senate - underwent a successful triple heart bypass operation early Monday.

"It was uneventful and totally satisfactorily performed," said Dr. Alan M. Speir, who performed the heart surgery at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

"It is anticipated that his post-operative course will be uncomplicated and the prognosis for full and unrestricted recovery is excellent," he said, according to a statement released by McConnell's office.

McConnell's wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, skipped her department's scheduled budget unveiling to be with him after his operation. McConnell's statement did not say how long he would be gone, but University of Cincinnati Medical Center heart surgeon John Flege said recovery usually lasts around six weeks.

"It's a very major procedure that by and large produces good results," Flege said.

McConnell, 61, of Louisville, had undergone routine cardiovascular screening tests. When follow-up catheterization Friday showed his arteries were blocked, McConnell consulted with Speir and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a heart surgeon. McConnell opted to have the surgery right away.

"I want to applaud Senator McConnell for the proactive step of taking an exercise stress test even though he felt just fine. Early detection is the best possible way to protect your health as Senator McConnell has proven," Frist said.

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