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Israel's Sharon faces heart op on Thursday - paper
Updated: 2006-01-01 16:09

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo a minor operation on Thursday to repair a tiny hole to his heart that is thought to have contributed to a mild stroke last month, a newspaper said.

Sharon, 77, is already back at work after the health scare on December 18, but it raised questions over how long he could continue to dominate Israeli politics as he campaigns to win a third term in March elections.

Doctors suspect a blood clot resulting from a 2 mm hole in the heart, a common birth defect, caused Sharon's stroke.

A tiny tube will be inserted to the heart via a blood vessel in a routine procedure known as cardiac catheterisation that takes about 30 minutes. Sharon will not need to stay in hospital overnight.

Haaretz newspaper said the operation would take place on Thursday. Sharon's office did not comment.

Doctors asked the bulky Sharon to cut back on his workload after the stroke. He has also been advised to eat less fatty food.

Polls have indicated the health scare did not harm Sharon's chances of winning a March election at the head of his new centrist Kadima, which campaigns on a platform of ending conflict with the Palestinians.

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