Rome: Controversial former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, 79, will undergo heart surgery to replace an aortic valve after suffering an attack his doctor said could have killed him.
"He arrived at the hospital in a severe state, he risked his life, he risked dying and he knew it," Berlusconi`s doctor Alberto Zangrillo told a press conference on Thursday, saying the operation would take place by the middle of next week.
The ageing media magnate, famed for his brushes with the law and his `bunga bunga` sex parties, was hospitalised Tuesday for tests at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan after suffering a heart deficiency over the weekend.
Zangrillo said the dysfunction was "severe" and there was "only one way to correct it".
"The valve must be replaced through conventional heart surgery, which involves the circulation (of blood) outside the body, direct sight of the heart by the surgeon and the replacement of the valve with an organic version," he said.
The operation will be performed by Ottavio Alfieri, head of heart surgery at the San Raffaele, and will last around four hours.
Zangrillo said the risks were "around two to three percent", adding: "As a doctor, even two percent makes me uneasy."
Berlusconi will then spend between one and two days in intensive care before returning to a normal ward, where, all being well, he will begin a period of rehabilitation.
"I expect him to be back to full health within a month," Zangrillo said, adding that successful surgery would leave Berlusconi "better than before".