Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s former prime minister and biggest media mogul, underwent successful heart surgery Monday at the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart Center in Ohio, according to a statement released Monday from his political party’s headquarters.
The statement revealed little about the procedure, other than to say it was to correct an irregular heartbeat.
The 70-year-old Berlusconi was abruptly flown to the U.S. over the weekend for a medical examination, triggering a new wave of media speculation that the nation’s wealthiest man would be fitted with a pacemaker.
Berlusconi’s health has been major news since he collapsed at a political rally Nov. 26 in Tuscany. Berlusconi blamed the fainting spell on fatigue, but doctors ordered him to spend three days in the intensive care unit of a Milan hospital.
It’s been a difficult year for Berlusconi. He narrowly lost the general election in April and now the new center-left government is trying to reform the terrestrial TV market, a move that could wipe out a quarter of the annual ad revenues for the Berlusconi-controlled Mediaset, Mediaset officials claim.
On Monday evening, Italian prime minister Romano Prodi issued a get-well greeting to Berlusconi, saying, “I hope to see you very soon in Italy, combative and in good form as only a determined politician can be.”