August 5, 2009 in Nation/World

Representative undergoes heart surgery

Associated Press
 
Lauren Burke photo

Larson
(Full-size photo)

HARTFORD, Conn. – U.S. Rep. John Larson underwent elective heart valve replacement surgery Tuesday for a condition his doctor says the congressman has known about for at least two years.

Larson, 61, the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the House, was resting comfortably after a successful procedure and is expected to make a full recovery, said Barry Feldman, a personal spokesman for the congressman.

Larson suffered from a congenital defect to an aortic valve which caused aortic stenosis, the narrowing of that valve.

The problem was diagnosed “two or three years ago” after a routine physical found a heart murmur, said Dr. Daniel Diver, Larson’s cardiologist.

Without surgery, the valve would eventually have become clogged, stopping the flow of blood, he said.

“The congressman was in perfect health,” Diver said. “In the modern era, we take this step prior to it causing any problems with the heart muscle or cardiac function, as we did here.”

The surgery was performed by Dr. William Martinez, a cardiac surgeon, in just under 2 1/2 hours, Diver said.

Larson, who is in 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.

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