Murkowski undergoes successful angioplasty procedure

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) Gov. Frank Murkowski underwent an angioplasty procedure on Monday and is doing well, his office said.

Doctors at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle were able to place a stent in a blocked artery during a procedure performed at about 10:30 a.m. Alaska time, said chief of staff Jim Clark.

During a press conference in the governor's conference room on Monday, Clark said he talked to Murkowski on the phone and the governor was doing well.

''He was well and alert and giving me directions as usual,'' Clark said. ''I can report to you he is in normal good spirits.''

Murkowski, 70, will undergo further tests on Tuesday after spending the night in the hospital, Clark said. He is expected to return to Alaska on Wednesday.

The governor underwent an angioplasty procedure April 9 at Providence Alaska Medical Center after doctors discovered a branch of his left coronary artery was between 95 percent and 98 percent blocked. A stent was inserted to keep the walls of the blood vessel open.

Murkowski flew to Virginia Mason last week for tests after medical staff here discovered an anomaly during a physical therapy session, staff said.

Dr. George Rhyneer performed the first procedure after Murkowski had gone to a doctor complaining of dehydration and fatigue. Rhyneer was unavailable for the procedure and doctors referred him to the Seattle hospital, staff has said.

Murkowski is expected to return to Juneau in time for the Legislature to adjourn. The Legislature is currently considering a 2004 budget and several pieces of legislation pushed by the governor.

During his absence, the governor has kept in daily contact with staff and has also been in contact with lawmakers. Clark said the governor is actively involved in the legislative process.

''He is really in good shape and very alert, very aware of what is going on here and very much in charge of the scene here,'' Clark said.

Clark said the procedure involved placing a stent in another artery, but he was not sure which artery nor how much blockage was found. Clark also said past governors Walter J. Hickel, Bill Sheffield and Vice President Dick Cheney have also undergone similar procedures.

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