Bernie Sanders 'up and about' after heart procedure, will be in next Democratic presidential debate

Sanders campaigning in Milford, New Hampshire on Sept 2, 2019. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is "up and about" after being treated for a blocked artery and will participate in the fourth Democratic debate on Oct 15, his wife Jane Sanders said on Thursday (Oct 3).

Sanders, 78, was taken to a hospital on Tuesday while in Las Vegas for campaign events and had two stents inserted to clear the blockage.

He is not expected to need additional medical procedures and should be discharged and head home to Vermont by the end of the weekend, his wife said.

Sanders had cancelled campaign events until further notice, but the US senator will be back in time for the debate featuring 12 of the top candidates for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in 2020.

"Bernie is up and about," Jane Sanders said in a statement, adding that his doctors were "pleased with his progress".

"Yesterday, he spent much of the day talking with staff about policies, cracking jokes with the nurses and doctors, and speaking with his family on the phone," she said.

"He'll take a few days to rest, but he's ready to get back out there, and is looking forward to the October debate."

The insertion of stents - tiny, wire-mesh tubes - to open blocked heart arteries is a relatively common procedure. In general, recovery can be as quick as a few days.

Sanders has been among the top contenders in a crowded Democratic presidential race, but the health scare could renew questions about his age.

He is the oldest candidate in a race featuring a generational divide between older contenders such as Sanders and front-runner Joe Biden, 76, and younger ones such as Pete Buttigieg, 37, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Trump is 73.

Sanders had been running in second place behind Biden for months but has been eclipsed in some recent opinion polls by the steady rise of a fellow progressive, US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

The halt to the Sanders campaign came the day after he reported a US$25.3 million (S$35 million) fund-raising haul for the third quarter, the biggest quarterly performance by any Democratic candidate in the race so far.

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