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Bernie Sanders' Heart Blockage One Of Most Common Afflictions In Men His Age

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is recovering after a heart procedure. He's hospitalized in Las Vegas after experiencing chest discomfort at a campaign event on Tuesday.

Sanders had a blockage in his heart. It's one of the most common afflictions in men his age and the procedure the 78-year-old senator underwent is one of the most routine performed by cardiologists.

The Sanders campaign says the 78-year-old senator from Vermont is conversing and in good spirits after a blockage in an artery required two stents.

"That's when a small wire is threaded past the blockage in the blood vessel which is causing the problem and the blood flow can be improved by using a balloon to expand the blockage. Then a stent is placed in the blood vessel to improve the blood flow more permanently," Dr. Sahil Banka, of Einstein Cardiology Associates, said.

Banka, an interventional cardiologist at Einstein, was not involved in Sanders' care.

The view of the heart comes with an angiogram which is usually done when patients like Sanders complain of chest plain. A thin wire is threaded through either the groin or wrist to access the heart.

"Sometimes getting two stents is necessary because of the length of the blockage or the size of the blockage," Banka said.

Symptoms of coronary artery disease include chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness and nausea.

Following a stent, patients are usually put on medications that don't cause any serious side effects.

"Most of our patients go right back to doing what they usually do," Banka said. "That's the goal of treating a blockage or doing coronary intervention, is getting people back to full activity level."

The Sanders campaign says the senator will be resting up over the next few days.

The campaign hasn't released any other information about Sanders' health situation. In 2016, his doctor released a letter during the campaign showing he had history of elevated cholesterol but no indication of heart disease at the time.

Cholesterol is a primary cause of heart blockages.

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