Fame and celebrity

He’ll be back! Arnold Schwarzenegger recovering in hospital after heart surgery

The ‘Terminator’ and ‘Predator’ star - known as ‘Arnie’ to his fans - is stable after having a catheter valve replaced in his heart

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 March, 2018, 1:57am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 March, 2018, 6:47pm

Hollywood action star Arnold Schwarzenegger is in stable condition and in a Los Angeles hospital after undergoing a scheduled heart surgery.

The 70-year-old actor-turned-activist had planned to replace a pulmonic valve on Thursday, according to Schwarzenegger’s spokesman, Daniel Ketchell.

“His first words were actually ‘I’m back,” so he is in good spirits,“ Ketchell tweeted.

Gossip website TMZ initially reported that the Terminator and Predator star - known as “Arnie” to his fans - had been rushed in for emergency open-heart surgery following a complication, and was operated on for several hours.

But Ketchell denied that it was an emergency, saying the operation was scheduled and that it was to replace a valve that had originally been installed in 1997 for a congenital heart defect.

“That 1997 replacement valve was never meant to be permanent, and has outlived its life expectancy,” Ketchell said. Schwarzenegger opted for a less-invasive catheter valve replacement procedure. 

 An open-heart surgery team was ready during the procedure, but Ketchell said their presence wasn’t unusual in such circumstances. 

“It wasn’t an emergency. It was a planned surgery,” he said. “The open heart was the backup option.”

Schwarzenegger, a former Mr Universe, underwent non-urgent heart surgery 21 years ago to replace the same heart valve, due to a condition he said was congenital and nothing to do with steroids.

His career as an action hero took off with the box-office hit Conan the Barbarian in 1982. 

Then, his iconic role as the Terminator in 1984 propelled him to box-office superstardom. 

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He revealed in his book Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story that he initially kept that first operation a secret from his wife, Maria Shriver, by telling her he was on holiday in Mexico.

In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes he said his doctor told him he was “crazy” when he said he planned to keep the operation quiet from Shriver.

“He said ‘your wife is pregnant, what do you mean you are not going to tell her?’” Schwarzenegger recalled.

“I told him: ‘Here is the plan, I am going to have the heart surgery, you do it quietly, no one knows about it, we do it at six in the morning. 

“‘Four days later I am out of here and I go to Mexico and I will tell Maria I am down here, a little busy and I am on holiday, when I come back I’ll be tanned and no one will know.’”

The Austrian-born former body builder was voted in as governor of California in a historic 2003 recall vote – but proved the win was no fluke by routing opponent Phil Angelides to get re-elected.

In addition to his heart ailments, Schwarzenegger had a motorcycle crash in 2001 that left him with several broken ribs.

He’s had a hip replaced and had rotator cuff surgery in 2003. A 2006 skiing accident broke his right femur, an injury that required a complicated surgery to repair. It also forced Schwarzenegger to hobble on crutches during his second gubernatorial inauguration and several major events. 

Schwarzenegger appeared in Los Angeles last week with Ohio Governor John Kasich to promote a new version of the California GOP that would be more inclusive and would have a willingness to work with Democrats on immigration and climate change. 

Schwarzenegger, a registered Republican, is known for his varied political stripes. In 2007 he warned that the GOP was “dying at the box office” and needed to claim issues usually associated with the Democratic agenda, such as climate change and health care reform.