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Bernie Sanders, independent candidate of Vermont, was rushed into surgery for a blocked coronary artery after he experienced chest pains during a campaign event on Tuesday.

Sanders, who is one of the leading candidates to challenge President Trump in 2020, underwent emergency surgery to have two stents inserted into one of his coronary arteries that feeds blood to the external muscle of the heart.

Sanders' spokesperson released a statement on Wednesday:

"During a campaign event yesterday evening, Sen. Sanders experienced some chest discomfort. Following medical evaluation and testing, he was found to have a blockage in one artery and two stents were successfully inserted."

The Spokesperson noted that Sanders is awake and talking to staff. All campaign events have been canceled until further notice.

"Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days. We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates."

A blockage is caused by a buildup of plaque inside the artery walls. Plaque builds up over time and is usually not diagnosed until the blockage causes symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath or death.

The blockage causes narrowing in the artery that interrupts the flow of blood to the heart muscle, leading to death of the heart muscle.

Below is an illustration of the front of a human heart. The illustration shows the positions of the left and right coronary arteries on the external wall of the heart.

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George Bush clogged arteries

Former President George Bush underwent a procedure earlier today to place a coronary stent in a blocked coronary artery in his heart. The coronary stent will keep the artery open to allow adequate blood flow in his heart.

The blockage was discovered during Bush's annual physical exam at the Cooper Clinic in Texas, reports Fox News. The procedure was performed at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital," according to a statement.

Patients who undergo stent placements must take oral anticoagulants (blood thinners) for life to keep blood clots from forming around the stents. Patients are at risk of stroke from blood clots and a buildup of white blood cells around the stent. Coronary stents are typically used to prevent heart attacks in people who are diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease caused by Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries or clogged arteries).

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