Sen. Bernie Sanders was admitted to a Nevada hospital on the night of Oct. 1 after experiencing chest pain at a campaign event, and released days later

By Jen Juneau
October 10, 2019 10:37 AM
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Sen. Bernie Sanders is on the mend following his heart attack, and is shutting down rumors about it.

In an interview that aired on Thursday’s episode of the Today show, the 2020 presidential hopeful sat down with NBC News correspondent Harry Smith to discuss his recent health setback — insisting he’s “on the way to a full recovery.”

Sanders was admitted to a Nevada hospital on the night of Oct. 1 after experiencing chest pain at a campaign event. While it was previously announced that he had two stents inserted into his heart after doctors discovered a blockage in one of his arteries, his campaign didn’t report the heart attack until Friday, The New York Times reported.

Asked by Smith about the sense that “the campaign must be hiding something,” Sanders stayed firm.

“No. That’s nonsense,” he replied. “We’re dealing with all kinds of doctors, and we wanted to have a sense of what the hell was going on, really.”

“I had a procedure that hundreds of thousands of people a year have,” Sanders added, sharing, “According to the doctors, I’m on the way to a full recovery.”

Following the interview clip, Today co-anchor Craig Melvin told viewers that the politician has promised to “release all of his medical records” at some point, and also “plans on participating in next week’s fourth Democratic presidential debate.”

Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders

In a statement to reporters from Sanders’ campaign on Friday, senior adviser Jeff Weaver said that the longtime senator’s health was on the mend.

“During a campaign event [Tuesday] 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,” Weaver said. “Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days.”

Campaign officials told the Times that Sanders would stay in Las Vegas on Friday night and return to Burlington, Vermont on Saturday. A rep for Sanders’ campaign did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

“I want to thank the doctors, nurses, and staff at the Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center for the excellent care that they provided,” Sanders said in a statement on Twitter Friday. “After two and a half days in the hospital, I feel great, and after taking a short time off, I look forward to getting back to work.”

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders (center)
| Credit: Bernie Sanders Twitter

Aside from health struggles this past week, Sanders has dealt with a family tragedy. Over the weekend, his daughter-in-law, Dr. Rainè Riggs, died at the age of 46.

The mother of three had been diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer just two days earlier, according to her obituary from the Lee & Martin Funeral Home in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania.

Some of Riggs’ final moments were spent with the three children who were her “crowning achievement,” her family remembered in the heartbroken obituary announcing her death on Saturday.

“Her last words were to tell her children how much she loved them and she was so sorry that she got sick,” Riggs’ family wrote. “Her last moment was spent with her No. 1 cheerleader, her mother, holding her hand and whispering in her ear how much she loved her.”