Italy’s ex-premier Berlusconi undergoes heart surgery

ROME (AP) — Media mogul and three-time Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi had surgery Tuesday to replace a malfunctioning heart valve and there were no immediate problems, said the surgeon who operated on him at a Milan hospital.

“The operation all went well, without complications,” cardiac surgeon Ottavio Alfieri told reporters. “Now he’s in intensive care and we have to wait the outcome, and for him to awake” from anesthesia.

Doctors will describe the outcome of the four-hour surgery at San Raffaele at a news conference on Wednesday, said Alfieri, still in his surgical scrubs, before taking his leave of the journalists.

Berlusconi, 79, was admitted to the hospital on June 5 suffering from what his personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, said was a potentially fatal heart-valve problem.

Zangrillo attended the surgery to replace Berlusconi’s aortic valve, which hadn’t been closing properly.

The former premier’s brother, Paolo Berlusconi, said he saw him right after the surgery. “He was breathing regularly. We were serene before, and we are even more serene now.”

“The doctors did their duty in the most professional way possible, now it’s up to my brother to do the rest” by recovering, he told reporters as he left the hospital.

Family members made no comment as they arrived at the hospital earlier. At one point, Berlusconi’s companion, Francesca Pascale, clutching a handkerchief or facial tissue, was seen at a hospital window.

Zangrillo has indicated that, assuming surgery is successful, Berlusconi — whose business empire includes media and advertising companies, including Italy’s three main private TV channels, and soccer club AC Milan — could resume an active life in about a month.

A tax fraud conviction forced Berlusconi to give up his Senate seat, but he still leads the Forza Italia party he created when leaping into politics more than 20 years ago. Weakened by infighting and prominent defections, the party did poorly in local mayoral races earlier this month.