“I just got out of the hospital a few hours ago and I’m feeling so much better,” Sanders said. “See you soon on the campaign trail.”
He and his wife both thanked people for their warm wishes.
“I want to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff at the Desert Springs Hospital Medical Centre for the excellent care that they provided,” Sanders said in a statement. “After two and a half days in the hospital, I feel great, and after taking a short time off, I look forward to getting back to work.”
Sanders’ campaign had previously disclosed that he had been treated for a blocked artery – a relatively common and low-risk procedure – after seeking medical attention for chest pains on Tuesday night in Las Vegas.
On Friday, the campaign released a statement from Sanders’ doctors revealing that Sanders was also diagnosed with suffering a myocardial infarction, another term for a heart attack, which describes when the heart suffers from a lack of oxygen due to a blocked artery or slow blood flow.
“After presenting to an outside facility with chest pain, Senator Sanders was diagnosed with a myocardial infarction,” said the statement, which was attributed to doctors Arturo E. Marchand Jr. and Arjun Gururaj.
“He was immediately transferred to Desert Springs Hospital Medical Centre. The Senator was stable upon arrival and taken immediately to the cardiac catheterisation laboratory, at which time two stents were placed in a blocked coronary artery in a timely fashion.”
“All other arteries were normal. His hospital course was uneventful with good expected progress. He was discharged with instructions to follow up with his personal physician.”
Heart attacks can be deadly, but survival rates and treatments have improved in recent decades.
About 15 per cent of sufferers never reach the hospital, but the prognosis is good for survivors who receive treatment quickly, with many leaving the hospital with limited heart damage, according to a summary from Harvard Medical School.
Sanders was expected to return to Vermont.
“There should not be an overreaction to this,” said Dr Steve Nissen, a heart expert at Cleveland Clinic who has not treated Sanders himself. “If he were my patient, I might ask him to avoid 16-hour days for at least a little bit of time. But there’s absolutely no reason he can’t get back to full activity soon.”
Heart attack patients may be statistically more prone to future heart attacks, Nissen said, but that doesn’t mean Sanders will have another episode or has to slow down for more than a few days or weeks.
“What’s more important than his age is his condition before the event. He strikes me as an incredibly vigorous and energetic guy. People like that tend to do well,” Nissen said, adding that he doesn’t buy the idea that stress causes heart attacks. “The culprit is a blockage in the coronary artery.”
This marks the second time in two months that health problems forced Sanders to cancel campaign events. In September, he backed out of some appearances in South Carolina because he lost his voice. His campaign said at the time that Sanders felt fine.
As the oldest candidate in the Democratic 2020 field, Sanders has sometimes jokingly referenced his age on the campaign trail. He is one of three septuagenarians who are leading the crowded race and have sparked questions within the party about whether Democrats need to coalesce around a younger leader.
Younger candidates, such as 37-year-old South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have said it’s time for a new generation to lead the Democratic Party and the country. Former Obama Housing Secretary Julian Castro appeared to make a jab at 76-year-old former Vice President Biden’s age during the September debate. “Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” the 45-year-old asked.
Democrats know that if they nominate one of the candidates who is 70 or older, it will be hard for them to use 73-year-old President Donald Trump’s age against him.
Sanders, Biden and 70-year-old Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have all pledged to release updated medical records.