Sharon to undergo heart procedure after stroke


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo a medical procedure to close a tiny hole in his heart that is believed to be the reason for his mild stroke last week, his doctors said today.

The procedure would take about 30 minutes and does not involve surgery. It is due to take place in two to three weeks. Doctors suspect the hole was the reason for the clot that caused the stroke on December 18th.

"This will be done to prevent future blood clots," said Tamir Ben-Hur of the Hadassah hospital. The procedure involves inserting a tiny tube via a blood vessel into the heart to block the hole, a common birth defect.

Doctors said Mr Sharon, 77, will make a full recovery from the mild stroke and that his blood pressure and cholesterol levels are normal.

But the health scare has raised questions over how long the bulky ex-general can continue to dominate Israeli politics. Mr Sharon returned to work yesterday in a show of vigour, telling his cabinet he had ordered tough military action against Palestinian rocket attacks.

Polls showed the health scare did not harm his chances of winning a third term in a March election.