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Berlusconi OK after surgery in U.S.

Media mogul corrects irregular heartbeat

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.”