McConnell Undergoes Elective Heart Surgery Monday

Posted February 3, 2003 at 2:02pm

Just three days after Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) underwent successful heart surgery, aides to Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he too had elected to take care of a heart problem.

McConnell underwent “elective coronary artery bypass surgery” at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Monday morning, according to a statement released by his office.

Doctors recommended triple bypass surgery after a screening on Friday showed McConnell had some arterial blockages.

Dr. Alan Spier, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the National Naval Medical Center, was quoted by McConnell’s office as saying the Senator’s “post-operative course would be uncomplicated and the prognosis for full and unrestricted recovery is excellent.”

However, it was not immediately clear how long McConnell would be absent from the Senate. He elected to have the surgery after consulting with Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who is a heart surgeon.

“I want to applaud Senator McConnell for the proactive step of taking an exercise stress test even though he felt just fine. Early detection is the best possible way to protect your health as Senator McConnell has proven,” Frist said in a statement released by McConnell’s office.

Graham, whose surgery to repair a damaged artery at National Naval Medical Center occurred the same day as McConnell’s screening, said his recuperation would last about three weeks.

McConnell first became aware of a potential problem during a routine cardiovascular screening conducted by the Capitol physician, Dr. John Eisold, according to the official statement.

McConnell’s wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, was with McConnell in the hospital.