73°F
weather icon Clear

Las Vegas cardiologists discuss Bernie Sanders’ heart condition

Updated October 2, 2019 - 6:21 pm

With the severity of his heart condition unknown, it’s too soon to say when — or even if — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders might return to the campaign trail, according to two Las Vegas cardiologists.

Sanders’ medical prognosis — and the future of his campaign — depend “on whether or not he had a heart attack,” said Dr. Keith Boman, a cardiologist who has practiced in Las Vegas for 40 years.

Boman, who is not one of Sanders’ doctors, noted that chest pain “would be a typical presentation for a blocked artery or for a heart attack.”

Sanders’ campaign stated that he had blockage in one artery and had two stents successfully inserted. The candidate had experienced “chest discomfort” at a campaign event in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Official campaign statements did not say whether Sanders experienced a heart attack. The Wall Street Journal quoted campaign spokesman Mike Casca on Wednesday as saying Sanders did not have a heart attack, then updated the story to say Casca later stated that more tests would be run to determine that diagnosis.

To insert a stent, doctors thread a tiny balloon inside a blocked artery to widen it. The stent, a small wire mesh tube, is then inserted to keep the artery open.

Following the insertion of stents, a patient who has not had a heart attack typically is hospitalized for a day or two for observation, after which there are minimal restrictions on activity, Boman said. The patient might also be prescribed a blood thinner and other medications. If a stress test found that a patient was fit to resume full activity, he might only be sidelined for a couple of weeks.

In such a scenario, “The prognosis is usually good,” Boman said.

If a patient has had a heart attack, he typically is hospitalized for a longer period that depends on the severity of the attack, after which there likely are restrictions on vigorous activity.

“A heart attack means there was some damage to the heart,” Boman said, adding that “you can easily have chest pain without damage to the heart.”

Coronary artery disease is not unusual in a person older than 70, Boman said. Sanders is 78.

Las Vegas cardiologist Buddha Dawn said a variety of factors will determine Sanders’ next steps.

“His return to the campaign trail would be dictated by his overall health status” and his symptoms, said Dawn, chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the UNLV School of Medicine.

“If it is an uncomplicated stent placement, the outcomes can be really good,” said Dawn, who also has not been involved in Sanders’ care.

Under these circumstances, a return to full activity would likely take several weeks at best, he said.

However, there is a “long list of complications that can happen both during and immediately after … and a very long interval after stent placement,” Dawn said.

Possible complications include bleeding, infection, a small heart attack and arrhythmia, when the heart beats with an irregular or abnormal rhythm.

“The primary outcome we want to avoid is stent closure” and a return of the blockage, Dawn said.

Stents are threaded into place through blood vessels in the groin or wrist. Most are coated with medication to prevent the artery from closing.

Ultimately, Dawn said, Sanders’ return to campaigning will be “largely dictated by his evolving medical condition.”

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Trump cancels plan to host G-7 at Doral in Florida

Responding to stinging criticism, President Donald Trump on Saturday abruptly reversed his plan to hold the next Group of Seven world leaders’ meeting at his Doral, Florida, golf resort next year.

Bernie Sanders tells supporters he’s back at NYC rally

Storming past questions about his health, Bernie Sanders vowed that he’s “more ready than ever” to fight for a political revolution — with a little help from new friends — at a rally Saturday that drew thousands to a New York City park.