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Palestinian Prez Has Heart Surgery

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also know as Abu Mazen smiles during a meeting at his office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday Feb. 10, 2005. Abbas has secured promises from the armed groups that they will observe a truce as the Israeli and Palestinian leaders declared an end to hostilities at a summit in Egypt last Tuesday. The cease-fire, however, still remains fragile. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
AP
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas underwent a heart procedure to open clogged arteries Wednesday at a hospital in Jordan, a senior Palestinian official said.

Abbas was taken to a hospital in Amman, Jordan Wednesday complaining of fatigue, where he underwent angioplasty, said Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a top Abbas aide.

He said the procedure was successful and 69-year-old leader was expected back in the West Bank on Thursday as planned.

Since succeeding the late Yasser Arafat in January, Abbas has appeared in good health and has not canceled or postponed meetings.

Palestinian officials said Abbas has high blood pressure and had previously battled cancer and eye ailments.

Over the past month he as made two long trips abroad, including stops in Asia, Russia and the Arab world — his first lengthy journeys since assuming office.

News of his illness came just hours after Palestinian and Israeli officials agreed to set up a meeting between him and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on June 21. It would be their first encounter since Feb. 8, when they met in Egypt and declared a cease-fire that has significantly reduced Palestinian-Israeli violence after more than four years of bloodshed.

Palestinian officials in the West Bank and Gaza would give no further details of Abbas' condition beyond saying he had undergone angioplasty, the procedure was successful, and he would return to his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah at midday Thursday on schedule.

Angioplasty is a common procedure in which a tiny balloon is threaded through the body into the heart and then inflated in a partially clogged coronary artery, flattening the plaque along the artery walls and restoring circulation. It is often combined with stenting, in which tiny mesh tubes are threaded into arteries to keep the blood flowing smoothly.

Clogged coronary arteries can lead to a heart attack. If angioplasty is unsuccessful or cannot be performed, surgeons resort to bypass surgery — removing veins from another part of the body, usually the legs, and replacing the damaged coronary arteries with them.

Bypass procedures are open-heart surgery, and while they are considered routine in modern medicine, the procedure is major surgery and requires weeks of recuperation.

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