Italy's ex-premier Berlusconi undergoes heart surgery

AP News
Posted: Jun 14, 2016 7:20 AM
Italy's ex-premier Berlusconi undergoes heart surgery

ROME (AP) — Media mogul and three-time Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi underwent heart surgery Tuesday at a Milan hospital to replace his aortic valve.

San Raffaele hospital said the surgery lasted about four hours and that Berlusconi was transferred to cardiac intensive care after it ended. A statement from the hospital provided no details; the ANSA news agency said there were no complications.

Berlusconi, 79, was admitted to the hospital on June 5 suffering from what his doctors said was a potentially fatal heart-valve problem.

Berlusconi's personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, was attending the surgery to replace Berlusconi's aortic valve, which wasn't closing properly.

Some three hours after the surgery began, a longtime close aide to Berlusconi, Gianni Letta, told reporters in Rome that he had just received a phone call from the hospital. "I was anxious. Everything fine, now I am more tranquil," ANSA quoted Letta as saying.

Family members made no comment as they arrived at the hospital. At one point, Berlusconi's companion, Francesca Pascale, clutching a handkerchief or facial tissue, was seen at a hospital window.

Zangrillo has indicated that, assuming surgery is successful, Berlusconi — whose business empire includes media and advertising companies, including Italy's three main private TV channels, and soccer club AC Milan — could resume an active life in about a month.

A tax fraud conviction forced Berlusconi to give up his Senate seat, but he still leads the Forza Italia party he created when leaping into politics more than 20 years ago. Weakened by infighting and prominent defections, the party did poorly in local mayoral races earlier this month.