Nevada assemblyman Wheeler gets stents after chest pains

Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler had angioplasty on Saturday and doctors placed two stents to open his blocked arteries, his campaign manager said.

The procedure happened after Wheeler, 60, reported chest and arm pains on Friday and early Saturday. But his cardiologist said he did not suffer a heart attack, said Wheeler’s campaign manager, Steve Donahue.

“He had blocked arteries,” but the problem was caught before he could suffer a heart attack, Donahue said.

“The doctor was very positive,” he added.

Wheeler is expected to remain overnight at Carson-Tahoe Hospital, but should be back on his feet soon.

“He’ll be able to start walking his district in a week, the doctor said,” according to Donahue.

Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, is running for re-election to Assembly District 39, which covers Douglas and Storey counties and part of Lyon County.

Initially, Wheeler’s legislative colleagues reported that he had suffered a heart attack, although he was well enough to speak to Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno.

Wheeler, in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal later Saturday morning, said reports were exaggerated.

“I’m having some tests done,” Wheeler said from his hospital bed. “If I had one (a heart attack) at all, it would definitely be classified as mild.”

He said he wasn’t even hooked up to a heart monitor while awaiting tests.

Wheeler said his wife insisted he go to the hospital Saturday morning after he woke up at 5 a.m. with chest and arm pains. He said he also felt similar pains on Friday when he was bailing hay with state Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden.

Putting in stents is a common procedure to open any blockages.

Wheeler made light of his situation.

“Rumors of my death greatly exaggerated,” he tweeted. “Just having some tests due to chest pain. Probably be out of here tomorrow.”

Earlier Saturday, Hickey shared the false heart attack information about Wheeler online.

“Breaking News: Just spoke with Assemblyman Jim Wheeler who’s in Carson-Tahoe Hospital for surgery on his heart. Politics aside, let us pray,” Hickey tweeted.

Hickey later said, “I tweeted what he told me,” although there appeared to be a miscommunication.

Assemblyman Paul Anderson, R-Las Vegas, also had circulated an email to his legislative colleagues.

“Everyone, I’m sending this out in hopes you join us in keeping Jim Wheeler and his family in your prayers over the next few days,” Anderson wrote, explaining that Hickey told him Wheeler had a heart attack.

Contact Laura Myers at Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj

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