Berlusconi Has Successful Heart Surgery

The Associated Press
Monday, December 18, 2006; 12:39 PM

ROME -- Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi underwent successful heart surgery Monday in the United States, his party said.

The operation at the Cleveland Clinic heart center in Ohio was "necessary to correct a problem with the (heart) rhythm," said a statement issued in Rome by Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

On Nov. 26, Berlusconi, a media mogul who heads the center-right opposition, collapsed while giving a speech to his Forza Italia party in Tuscany, and spent a few days in a Milan hospital for tests. His aides and doctor blamed the collapse on a sharp drop in blood pressure.

A week after his collapse, Berlusconi whipped up a huge crowd of supporters in Rome during a rally against the center-left government of the man who defeated him in April, Premier Romano Prodi.

Prodi sent his best wishes to his predecessor.

"Dear Silvio, I am relieved to know that the operation that you have undergone in these hours in the United States has been successfully completed," Prodi said in his message.

Berlusconi revealed years ago that he had successfully recovered from prostate cancer, saying he had surgery for it in 1997.

© 2006 The Associated Press