Congressman Larson Has Heart Valve Surgery

U.S. Rep. Congressman John B. Larson, 61, underwent successful heart valve surgery Tuesday.

“The Congressman is doing well and resting now. He is expected to make a full recovery and will return to work in the course of the next few weeks,” family spokesman Barry Feldman said in a news release.

Larson had the elective surgery done at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford. His cardiologist and a family spokesman met with the media Tuesday afternoon.

"He had a congenital defect in his aortic valve," Feldman said. "He and his physicians have known that at some time surgery would be necessary."

Larson did not have any symptoms, and felt fine, Feldman said. He decided to undergo surgery during the congressional recess, "when it wasn't an emergency situation, and at a time when the recuperation and prognosis is better than it would be later, when the condition might cause some damage," Feldman said.

Larson, who is completing his sixth term in the House, serves as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, a position he took over last November when Rep. Rahm Emanuel became President Barack Obama's chief of staff.

Feldman said Larson decided not to make the condition public before now, "just because he wanted to limit the discussion before he had the surgery."

Dr. Daniel Diver, his cardiologist, said Larson is expected to be released from the hospital in four or five days.  Larson plans to be back on the job in September when Congress reconvenes.

Feldman said Larson was confident having the surgery at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, despite recent problems with the hospital's cardiac program.

The hospital voluntarily suspended elective heart procedures for a week last month while the state Department of Public Health investigated the maintenance records of heart and lung machines in the operating room.

The health department has not said what led to the investigation.

"All of the questions that the congressman may have had (about the program) were satisfactorily answered, said Feldman.

Last week, U.S. Senator Chris Dodd announced that he had early-stage prostate cancer and will undergo surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York when the Senate is on recess in August.

Heart valves control the direction of blood flow through the heart and valve replacement surgery is open-heart surgery.

A cut is made through the breastbone and the blood is routed away from the heart to a heart-lung bypass machine, which keeps the blood circulating while your heart is being operated on, according to information on the St. Francis Web site.

Replacement heart valves can be either natural or artificial and the success rate of heart valve surgery is high. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us