Doctors Confirm That Bernie Sanders Had A Heart Attack

After a week of silence, Bernie Sanders campaign confirm that he had a heart attack earlier this week.

After several days of silence, during which his campaign had effectively shutdown, the doctors in Las Vegas who treated Bernie Sanders for his ‘cardiac incident’ on Tuesday night confirmed last yesterday that the Senator had a heart attack:

Bernie Sanders was hospitalized after a heart attack, his campaign announced for the first time Friday.

The 2020 Democratic hopeful’s aides revealed Wednesday that he had chest pains the previous evening and doctors had inserted two stents to address a blockage in an artery. That is a fairly common procedure, with one cardiologist calling it “mostly a nuisance” that would likely keep him hospitalized for only one or two days.

But Sanders’ staff initially revealed little information about his condition beyond the stent procedure. On Friday evening, his doctors at Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas said he was diagnosed with a heart attack after going to an outside facility and then transferred to their hospital.

“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 said in the statement.

Arturo E. Marchand Jr. and Arjun Gururaj, Sanders’ physicians, said that he was stable once he arrived at Desert Springs and then immediately treated at the cardiac catheterization laboratory.

“His hospital course was uneventful with good expected progress. He was discharged with instructions to follow up with his personal physician,” they said.

Asked why the campaign did not reveal he suffered a heart attack until Friday evening, a spokesman for Sanders said “that’s the moment when the most accurate and up-to-date summary could be given by doctors.”

More from CNN:

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders suffered a heart attack, his campaign confirmed on Friday after he departed Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas.

“I want to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff at the Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center for the excellent care that they provided,” Sanders said in a statement Friday.

“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’ treating physicians — Arturo Marchand Jr., MD, and Arjun Gururaj, MD — confirmed that the senator was diagnosed with a “myocardial infarction” and had two stents placed in a blocked coronary artery, noting that “all other arteries were normal.” Myocardial infarction is the medical term for a heart attack.

They added that Sanders’ hospital stay and treatment were “uneventful with good expected progress,” and that he had been instructed “to follow up with his personal physician.”Sanders tweeted later Friday to thank his well-wishers for their continued support.

“Hello everybody! We’re in Las Vegas. I’m feeling so much better,” he said. “Thank you for all of the love and warm wishes that you sent me. See you soon on the campaign trail.”

In the accompanying video of Sanders saying nearly the same message a few hours after leaving the hospital, Sanders’ wife, Jane, added, “Thank you all so much. It really made a difference.”The senator from Vermont had experienced “chest discomfort” at a campaign event on Tuesday night, according to senior adviser Jeff Weaver.

Weaver said on Wednesday that Sanders will be “canceling his events and appearances until further notice.”

On Thursday, his campaign confirmed that he will be taking part in the next Democratic primary debate on October 15 and that he plans to return home to Vermont in the coming days before taking part in the debate.

Jane Sanders said in a statement Thursday afternoon that her husband is “up and about” and has not undergone any additional procedures” since the stent insertion.”He’s been spending the last couple of days just having a good time, talking to people, friends and family and so many well wishers that have called and his friends and then of course the well wishers that have tweeted, emailed, called, all of our phones. And we just really want to thank them,” she said.

In all honesty, this is not entirely surprising news. The suddenness of Sanders’ absence from the campaign trail, combined with the announcement that the health issue that had kept him off the trail was “cardiac-related” and had resulted in the implantation of two arterial stents to deal with a blockage near the heart brought the idea to the mind rather immediately the idea that the Senator had suffered a heart attack, albeit one mild enough that he was able to recover quickly enough to be released from the hospital within a few days and for his campaign to announce that he would be participating in the upcoming October 15th debate, although it’s unclear if he’ll be returning to the campaign trail with the same grueling schedule he had before this week.

At the same time, though, the incident does bring to mind several legitimate questions that could impact Sanders and others in the race. The most obvious one, of course, is the issue of health itself. At 78 years old, Bernie Sanders is the oldest candidate in the race and the oldest serious candidate to ever run for President. He’s followed by former Vice President Biden, who is 76 years old and will turn 77 in a month and a half, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is 70 years old and will be 71 next June. President Trump, meanwhile, is 73 years old and will be 74 next June. If elected, these people would be 79, 78, 71, and 74 on Inauguration Day 2020 and 83, 82, 75, and 78 respectively in 2025. Even without this incident, which raises legitimate concerns about not only Sanders’ health but that of all the candidates, the issue of health was bound to come up at some point. Now, though, I suspect it will become more urgent.

The second question it raises is the transparency of the Sanders campaign. Notwithstanding their claims, I suspect that doctors knew fairly quickly that the cardiac event that Sanders had suffered was indeed a heart attack. The first reason to believe this is the fact that there are blood tests that can be taken after such an incident to determine whether a heart attack had taken place. Additionally, the fact that the campaign moved so quickly to cancel Sanders’ campaign events indicates they knew the matter was serious. While Sanders is, of course, entitled to the same medical privacy as the rest of us he’s also a candidate for President and running at a rather advanced age. The voters need to know the state of his health, and the people around him need to know that trying to hide information like this just leads to people asking more questions.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Joyner says:

    I wish him a speedy and full recovery and many more years to come. But his campaign is all but over. Even before this, he was a longshot and fading. Now, the natural questions about his age are compounded.

  2. @James Joyner:

    Agreed, but I also think the same questions should be raised about the other candidates. Especially the septuagenarians.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I think Warren is relatively safe, since she’s quite a bit younger than Trump, Sanders, and Biden and a woman. She’s a year older than Ronald Reagan was at this stage in the 1980 campaign and we’re 40 years further along in our medical advances and life expectancy. And women tend to have better health, longer than men.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Doug: Your point about transparency of the campaign is important. When I suffered chest pains I was told within a couple of hours of arriving at the ER that I hadn’t suffered a heart attack, but there were abnormalities. Later that day I was scoped, with blockages identified. Sanders and his closest staff knew that it was a heart attack and obscured that information for several days.

  5. @James Joyner:

    Fair point, and Warren does not look 70 years old. (Then again, neither does Trump really) Still, I would argue that health questions are legitimate for any candidate 70 or older and any candidate with a history of prior health issues.

  6. @Sleeping Dog:

    Exactly my point

  7. Kathy says:

    Bernie should consider whether he wants to continue on a physically taxing, high-stress campaign in order to obtain an even more stressful job.

  8. Scott F. says:

    Sanders should consider how important it is to himself that he lives long enough to see some of his policy ideas to come into law, then think long and hard about the impacts to his health from more campaigning. He should identify for the BernieBros who he sees as the politician best suited to carry the torch of his ideology into the future and (with his successor named) graciously bow out of the race. I would hope he could rest easily then in the knowledge that his call for revolution shifted the winds of public policy in the US for the coming years.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    Bernie should consider whether this is about his ideas or his ego. Warren can carry the Left’s banner; at this point Sanders is wasting everyone’s time and money.

    I’m working on something that, if it succeeds (loooong odds) would involve a whole lot of people and millions of dollars. I consider my age relevant and have given it serious consideration, and I’m just 65 and will not exactly be in charge of nuclear weapons. It’s absurd to pretend that health is irrelevant, and until we get a better way to judge health and survival in a more individuated way, age is a pretty good proxy.

  10. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Staff may not have known immediately.

    Sanders and his family would have definitely have been told — but also may have gotten the “you’re lucky you came in when you did, as you could have had a serious heart attack…” speech, and then thought they caught it before a heart attack, while it was still just a myocardial infarction (not realizing that it is the same thing).

    Doctors are not always clear, and patients hear what they want to hear.

    I’m not going to guess when Bernie actually learned. He should drop out though, and Biden should get a treadmill test scheduled. Warren’s 24 year old marine bodybuilder is probably testament to her health, but she should do the same.

  11. michael reynolds says:


    a serious heart attack

    As opposed to the more common silly heart attack.

  12. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: I suspect you’re just being silly, but people frequently have smaller heart attacks (which may or may not even be noticed sometimes) before they have one that is fatal. It’s way better to catch an early one, and add stents and other treatments, before there is a lot of damage to the heart.

    Translating that knowledge from medical speak to common vernacular leaves a lot of space for people to hear what they want to hear.

    I’m not a medical professional, my expertise is mostly in hearing what I want to hear because I am a cantankerous old man (and have been so since I was 8 years old)

  13. Jay L Gischer says:

    I had a heart attack in 2004. It felt like a case of heartburn, and not even a bad one, but there was also some fainting involved. I went to the ER, they hooked me up to an EKG, and the attending physician looked at the live-stream EKG and said, “Yep, you’re having a heart attack”. My C-reactive protein test was negative because we got to the hospital so fast. It was a Saturday morning, they got the Cath team in as fast as they could, about an hour and 20 minutes, and they apologized for being so slow. They did a thrombectomy and inserted two stents in my right coronary artery. I was back to full activity in about 3 months.

    There is no way they did not know it was a heart attack. But they wanted to take some time to figure out what to do about it. I think the politics of this might well be fatal for Bernie, even though I think that medically, he’ll probably be fine.

  14. Teve says:

    The cleverest and most abhorrent response I saw to this news was “Fill the Urn!”

  15. PJ says:

    So, I visited the SandersForPresident subreddit. Looks like they are doing the best suppressing any threads or comments mentioning the heart attack. Also, they really don’t like Warren, can’t wait for them to argue that there’s no difference between her and Trump…

  16. michael reynolds says:

    Bernie supporters don’t like women, period.

  17. Matt says:

    @michael reynolds: The berniebros certainly don’t seem to…