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Bernie Sanders reportedly felt chest pain at a campaign event. Getty Images
  • Bernie Sanders had 2 stents inserted in order to clear a blockage in an artery.
  • Sanders reported feeling chest pain at a campaign event yesterday.
  • Procedures to place a stent, used to help keep an artery open, are extremely common in the United States and usually very safe.
  • High cholesterol is generally the most common reason a stent is needed to clear a blockage.

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders underwent a procedure yesterday to have 2 stents inserted after experiencing some chest discomfort during an event in Las Vegas, according to his campaign.

Upon being evaluated, doctors determined that Sanders had a blockage in an artery that needed to be treated immediately.

The senator is now recovering and hopes to be back on the campaign trail soon.

“Senator Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days,” Sanders’ senior campaign advisor Jeff Weaver said today in a statement reported by The New York Times.

Sanders later took to Twitter reporting that he’s “feeling good.”

The most common cause of blocked arteries is high cholesterol, says Dr. Nicole Harkin, a cardiologist with Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates.

Essentially, cholesterol builds in the arteries and can clog them up, preventing blood and oxygen from flowing to and from the heart.

This can be exasperated by other health problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking.

When the walls of an artery narrow, people tend to develop angina — or a condition that occurs when the heart isn’t getting enough oxygen-rich blood. Symptoms of angina vary, but typically include chest pain or discomfort.

“The most common symptoms a person may experience when they have a blocked artery is some type of chest pain, discomfort, or pressure. Some people also have shortness of breath, nausea, or overwhelming fatigue,” Harkin told Healthline.

Sometimes, the pain can even originate in the neck, jaw, or left arm.

Coronary stent procedures are extremely common in the United States, and an estimated 2 million people get them every year.

A stent is a small, mesh-like piece of metal that’s inserted into the artery to open it up and get blood flowing again.

The tiny devices, which are usually very successful, can be life-saving and prevent critical damage in the heart muscle.

“The arteries bring nourishment to the heart muscle. The heart muscle is working 24/7, 365 days, and is very fastidious in its need for nourishment (oxygen) through these arteries,” says Dr. Mohammed N. Imam, the chairman of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at Staten Island University Hospital.

When the heart doesn’t get the oxygen it needs due to a narrowing of the artery, it starts dying, which can cause a heart attack or death, Imam added.

The stent opens up the arteries and prevents it from collapsing again, Imam said.

In Sanders’ case, the blockage may have been particularly long, requiring him to get 2 stents rather than 1.

According to Harkin, stents stay inside a blood vessel for the patient’s lifetime and cannot be removed. Eventually, the blood vessel will start to grow over the stent — which is called endothelialization.

But the work isn’t over once the stent’s been inserted.

“Stents are very successful at treating a person’s immediate symptoms and can keep the vessel open a long time, but it is important to address the underlying cause so that it doesn’t happen again,” Harkin said.

Oftentimes, people who get stents need to make immediate lifestyle changes, including following a healthier, plant-based diet and exercising more.

Many will also need to take statins, a type of medication that lowers blood cholesterol levels in the blood.

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders had 2 stents inserted after experiencing chest pain yesterday.

Stents are an extremely common procedure in the United States, and are used to open up blocked arteries — the most common cause of which is high cholesterol.

Those who get stents will also need to make long-term lifestyle changes — like a healthier diet and more exercise — to improve their heart health.