January 11, 2017 / 8:13 AM / 3 years ago

Italian PM Gentiloni's heart procedure completely successful: doctors

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is making an excellent recovery following a “completely successful” heart procedure at a Rome hospital, doctors said on Wednesday.

Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni arrives to hold a traditional end-year press conference in Rome, Italy December 29, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The 62-year-old, who took office last month, had emergency angioplasty to unblock a blood vessel late on Tuesday.

“The full success of the intervention was confirmed this afternoon by the excellent clinical progress being made by the premier,” a medical bulletin from Rome’s Gemelli hospital said.

The procedure, which widens a narrow or obstructed artery or vein by stenting, was done after a CAT scan and blood tests.

Gentiloni tweeted that he felt well and would be “back at work soon”.

It was not clear when he would leave the hospital, but a spokesman for the premier said his trip to London on Thursday to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May had been canceled.

Gentiloni, of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), formed a government after Matteo Renzi stepped down in the wake of a referendum loss over his flagship constitutional reform.

He felt unwell after returning from a meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Paris and was examined by a doctor at his office, who sent him to hospital, a government source said.

“He left for the hospital on his own two feet,” the source said, noting that Gentiloni did not suffer a heart attack.

Doctor Pietro Santarelli, a retired cardiologist who worked for years at the Gemelli, said that from the information available he believed Gentiloni could be out of the hospital in a few days. Angioplasty has become a routine procedure, he said.

“If the time from the onset of the symptoms and the time that he went into the operating room was too long then perhaps some heart muscle could have been damaged,” he said.

Santarelli said the fact that Gentiloni was able to walk to the car that took him to the hospital was a good sign and that the prime minister was likely to have been suffering from “unstable angina,” possibly caused by a clot.

Doctors would now do enzyme tests and ecocardiograms to see if any permanent damage had been done to his heart, he said.

Gentiloni, who was foreign minister until last month, took power during a banking crisis that has already required him to step in to rescue Italy’s third-largest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, and pledge as much as 20 billion euros ($21 billion) to prop up other lenders.

But how long his government may last is unclear. A national election is not due until 2018, but Italy’s three biggest parties are calling for a snap vote this year. Whether it is called will depend mainly on whether parliament can adopt a new electoral law over the next few months.

Additional reporting by Philip Pullella and Gavin Jones in Rome; Editing by Louise Ireland

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